Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) consisting of the Indian Ordnance Factories is a Government agency under the control of department of defence production (DDP) Ministry of Defence (MoD), Government of India. It is engaged in research, development, production, testing, marketing and logistics of a product range in the areas of air, land and sea systems. OFB comprises forty-one ordnance factories, nine training institutes, three regional marketing centres and four regional controllerates of safety, which are spread all across the country. Every year, 18 March is celebrated as the Ordnance Factory Day in India.
OFB is the world’s largest government-operated production organisation, and the oldest organisation in India. It has a total workforce of about 80,000. It is often called the “Fourth Arm of Defence”, and the “Force Behind the Armed Forces” of India. OFB is the 35th largest defence equipment manufacturer in the world, 2nd largest in Asia, and the largest in India. Its total sales were at $2 billion (₹13687.22 crores) in the year 2017-2018.
Ordnance Factory Board predates all the other organisations like the Indian Army and the Indian Railways by over a century. The first Indian ordnance factory can trace its origins back to the year 1712 when the Dutch Ostend Company established a Gun Powder Factory in Ichhapur. In 1787, another gunpowder factory was established at Ichapore; it began production in 1791, and the site was later used as a rifle factory, beginning in 1904. In 1801, Gun Carriage Agency (now known as Gun & Shell Factory, Cossipore) was established at Cossipore, Calcutta, and production began on 18 March 1802. This is the oldest ordnance factory in India still in existence.
The Indian Ordnance Factories have not only supported India through the wars, but played an important role in building India with the advancement of technology and have ushered the Industrial Revolution in India starting with the first modern steel plant of India much before Tata Steel, first modern electric textile mill of India, first chemical industries such as smokeless propellant plants of India, established the first engineering colleges of India as its training schools, played key role in the founding of research and industrial organisations like ISRO, DRDO, BDL, BEL, BEML and SAIL.
- 1712 – Establishment of the Dutch Ostend Company’s Gun Powder Factory at Ichhapur.
- 1775 – Establishment of the Board of Ordnance at Fort William, Kolkata.
- 1787 – Establishment of the Gun Powder Factory at Ishapore.
- 1791 – Production of Gun Powder begins at Ishapore.
- 1801 – Establishment of Gun Carriage Agency at Cossipore, Kolkata.
- 1802 – Production begins at Cossipore on 18 March.
- 1935 – Indian Ordnance Service was introduced to administer the whole Defence Production Industry of India.
- 1954 – Indian Ordnance Service (IOS) renamed to Indian Ordnance Factories Service (IOFS).
- 1979 – Ordnance Factory Board is established on 02 April.
In May 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government announced that it will corporatise Ordnance Factory Board units. As part of Prime Minister’s Self Reliant India Atma Nirbhar Bharat scheme, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on 16 May 2020 announced the decision to corporatise the OFB units. The move has not gone down well with the 80,000 plus work force of OFB units who have threatened an indefinite strike against the move. The Ministry of Defence formed a high level official committee, comprising officials from the department of defence production and Indian Army, to address the concerns of defence employees unions and OFB officers’ association.
- Ordnance Factory Board, Kolkata.
- Armoured Vehicles Headquarters, Chennai.
- Ordnance Equipment Factories Headquarters, Kanpur.
- Ordnance Factory Board, New Delhi Office.
- Ordnance Factory Cell, Mumbai.
- Ordnance Factories Recruitment Centre, Nagpur.
The Apex Board is headed by the director general of ordnance factories, who acts as the chairman of the board (ex officio secretary to Government of India) and consists of nine other members, who each hold the rank of Additional DGOF. Ordnance factories are divided into five operating divisions, depending upon the type of the main products/technologies employed. These are:
- Ammunition and Explosives.
- Weapons, Vehicles & Equipment.
- Materials and Components.
- Armoured Vehicles.
- Ordnance Equipment Group of Factories.
Each of the above group of factories is headed by a member/Additional DGOF who is in the rank of Special Secretary to Government of India. The four remaining members are responsible for staff functions, viz personnel, finance, planning and material management, and technical services, and they operate from Kolkata.
- Ammunition Factory Khadki (AFK) Pune Maharashtra.
- Cordite Factory (CFA) Aruvankadu Tamil Nadu.
- Engine Factory Avadi (EFA) Chennai Tamil Nadu.
- Field Gun Factory, Kanpur (FGK) Kanpur Uttar Pradesh.
- Gun Carriage Factory Jabalpur (GCF) Jabalpur Madhya Pradesh.
- Grey Iron Foundry (GIF) Jabalpur Madhya Pradesh.
- Gun and Shell Factory (GSF) Kolkata West Bengal.
- Heavy Alloy Penetrator Project (HAPP) Tiruchirappalli Tamil Nadu.
- High Explosives Factory (HEF) Pune Maharashtra.
- Heavy Vehicles Factory, Chennai (HVF) Chennai Tamil Nadu.
- Machine Tool Prototype Factory Ambernath (MPF) Mumbai Maharashtra.
- Metal and Steel Factory (MSF) Kolkata West Bengal.
- Ordnance Clothing Factory Avadi (OCFAV) Chennai Tamil Nadu.
- Ordnance Factory Chandigarh (OCFC) Chandigarh Chandigarh.
- Ordnance Clothing Factory (OCFS) Shahjahanpur Uttar Pradesh.
- Ordnance Equipment Factory Kanpur (OEFC) Kanpur Uttar Pradesh.
- Ordnance Equipment Factory Hazratpur (OEFHZ) Hazratpur Uttar Pradesh.
- Ordnance Factory Ambernath (OFA) Mumbai Maharashtra.
- Ordnance Factory Ambajhari (OFAJ) Nagpur Maharashtra.
- Ordnance Factory Bhandara (OFBA) Bhandara Maharashtra.
- Ordnance Factory Bhusawal (OFBH) Bhusawal Maharashtra.
- Ordnance Factory Bolangir (OFBOL) Bolangir Odisha.
- Ordnance Factory Kanpur (OFC) Kanpur Uttar Pradesh.
- Ordnance Factory Chandrapur (OFCH) Chandrapur Maharashtra.
- Ordnance Factory Dumdum (OFDC) Kolkata West Bengal.
- Ordnance Factory Dehu Road (OFDR) Pune Maharashtra.
- Ordnance Factory Dehradun (OFDUN) Dehradun Uttarakhand.
- Ordnance Factory Itarsi (OFI) Itarsi Madhya Pradesh.
- Ordnance Factory Khamaria (OFK) Jabalpur Madhya Pradesh.
- Ordnance Factory Katni (OFKAT) Katni Madhya Pradesh.
- Ordnance Factory Muradnagar (OFM) Muradnagar Uttar Pradesh.
- Ordnance Factory Project (OFN) Nalanda Bihar.
- Ordnance Factory Project Korwa (OFPKR) Korwa Uttar Pradesh.
- Ordnance Factory Project Medak (OFPM) Hyderabad Telangana.
- Ordnance Factory Tiruchirappalli (OFT) Tiruchirappalli Tamil Nadu.
- Ordnance Factory Varangaon (OFV) Varangaon Maharashtra.
- Opto Electronics Factory (OLF) Dehradun Uttarakhand.
- Ordnance Parachute Factory (OPF) Kanpur Uttar Pradesh.
- Rifle Factory Ishapore (RFI) Kolkata West Bengal.
- Small Arms Factory (SAF) Kanpur Uttar Pradesh.
- Vehicle Factory Jabalpur (VFJ) Jabalpur Madhya Pradesh.
Each ordnance factory is headed by a general manager who is in the rank of Additional Secretary to the Government of India.
Training Institutes, Regional Centres and Controllerates
- National Academy of Defence Production, Nagpur.
There are Ordnance Factories Institute of Learning (OFIL) in Ambajhari, Nagpur; Ambernath, Mumbai; Avadi, Chennai; Dehradun; Ishapore, Kolkata; Khamaria, Jabalpur; Kanpur and Medak. Each OFIL is headed by a principal director, and NADP by a senior principal director. NADP provides training to Group A officers, whilst the other eight institutes impart training to Group B and Group C employees of the ordnance factories.
OFB has Regional marketing centres and Regional controllerates of safety as well.
Indian Ordnance Factories Service (IOFS)
The Indian Ordnance Factories Service (IOFS) (Hindi: भारतीय आयुध निर्माणी सेवा) is a civil service of the Government of India. IOFS officers are Gazetted (Group A) defence-civilian officers under the Ministry of Defence.
IOFS is a multi-disciplinary composite cadre consisting of technical – engineers (civil, electrical, mechanical, electronics), technologists (aerospace, automotive, marine, industrial/product design, computer, nuclear, optical, chemical, metallurgical, textile, leather) and non-technical/administrative (science, law, commerce, management and arts graduates). Technical posts comprise about 87% of the total cadre. The doctors (surgeons and physicians) serving in OFB belong to a separate service known as the Indian Ordnance Factories Health Service (IOFHS). IOFHS officers are responsible for the maintenance of health of the employees, and the hospitals of OFB. They report directly to the IOFS officers. IOFS and IOFHS are the only two civil services under the Department of Defence Production.
The type of ordnance material produced is very diverse, including various small arms to missiles, rockets, bombs, grenades, military vehicles, armoured vehicles, chemicals, optical devices, parachutes, mortars, artillery pieces plus all associated ammunition, propellants, explosives and fuses.
Civilians are required to hold an Arms License (issued only for non-prohibited bore category weapons) in order to buy firearms in India.
The prime customers of Indian Ordnance Factories are the Indian Armed Forces viz. Indian Army, Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force. Apart from supplying armaments to the Armed Forces, Ordnance Factories also meet the requirements of other customers viz. the Central Armed Police Forces, State Armed Police Forces, Paramilitary Forces of India and the Special Forces of India in respect of arms, ammunition, clothing, bullet proof vehicles, mine protected vehicles etc.
Customers are in the civil sector, central/state government organisations and departments such as Indian Railways, Indian Space Research Organisation, Defence Research and Development Organisation, Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre, Nuclear Fuel Complex, Aeronautical Development Agency, Department of Atomic Energy, Department of Telecommunications, and State Electricity Boards. Public Sector Undertakings in India (PSUs) such as HMT Limited, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited, Bharat Dynamics Limited, private companies and individuals etc. who purchase industrial chemicals, explosives, arms, ammunition, brass ingots, aluminium alloy products for aircraft, steel castings and forgings, vehicles, clothing and leather goods, cables and opto-electronic instruments.
Arms and ammunition, weapon spares, chemicals and explosives, parachutes, leather and clothing items are exported to more than 30 countries worldwide.
- Asia: Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Vietnam, Nepal, Singapore.
- Europe: Germany, Belgium, Cyprus, Greece, Turkey, Russia, Sweden, France, Switzerland, United Kingdom.
- Middle East: Oman, Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, UAE.
- Africa: Kenya, Botswana, Nigeria.
- North and South America: United States, Canada, Brazil, Chile, Suriname.