Nagpur: The Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) has come up with an enhanced version of Russian T-90 tank ammunition even before the Army changes its mind saying it wants a better product that the factories are supplying now.

The OFB has already got orders from the Army to supply 125 mm Fin-Stabilised Armour-Piercing Dscarding Sabot (FSAPDS) shells. The current version has a capacity to pierce into steel plates of 460 mm thickness that are put on the enemy tanks. Sensing that the Army may soon demand a higher penetration, the OFB has a developed an ammunition that can rip into steel of over 500 mm thickness. This comes at a time when the government is considering a case to corporatise the OFB with view to make it more competitive.

The OFB has recently finished supplying over 10,000 tank shells with 460 mm piercing capacity. In a bid to continue getting indents, it has now come up with shells having piercing capacity of much beyond 500 mm, said sources. Internal trials have been completed over a month ago and the product would be put up before the Army for its final appraisal. The production process takes place in ordnance factories across Vidarbha too.

Even though T-90 tanks have been purchased much earlier, the OFB got the transfer of technology (ToT) for making 125mm FSAPDS shells in 2015-16 from the Russian original equipment maker (OEM).

In line with the original requirement of 460 mm capacity, the OFB has supplied over 10,000 shells made out of semi-knocked down material received from Russia. It is gearing up to make a similar number of shells out of completely knocked down (CKD) material. In the meantime, the Army also purchased over 90,000 shells, also of 460 mm capacity, directly from Russia.

Sources said even as there has been no official communication from the Army, it has been known through some of the communication and including minutes that the Army may soon change the requirement, said highly placed sources. As the Army has invited request for proposal (RFP), from a whole gamut of ammunition the 125 mm FSAPDS rounds were dropped as the piercing capacity was changed to over 500 mm from 460 mm, said a source.

“If the Army now wants to change the standards, why should it have placed an order for 460 mm at all? The Army has also purchased a sizeable quantity from Russian manufacturers,” said a source.

Both T-90 and T-72 tanks, also purchased from Russia, use same ammunition. Even as the FSAPDS shell is also used in the T-72 tanks, the design made by the DRDO could not make its way into the Army. The production of the DRDO-designed shells was stopped nearly a decade ago following an accident, said a source.

  • These are 125 mm FSAPDS shells
  • Production of DRDO-designed shells was stopped after an accident 10 years ago
  • OFB got ToT from Russia in 2015-16
  • It has begun supplying shells of 460 mm piercing capacity
  • Army should have decided on yardstick before placing orders