Since we are on the subject of how rotten our made in India OFB ammunition is, let me narrate a real incident that embarrassed us in an International Defence Exhibition.
The year was 1999, we , India, were participating in the “IDEX-99”, Defence Exhibition at Abu Dhabi.¹
I was then, the Director of the Defence Exhibition Organisation. The objective in Going for these exhibitions is meant to promote our Defence Production capabilities and seek interest of these countries in acquiring our weapons and weapon systems.
Frankly, we’ve never had any thing to offer, but we go there anyway, because it’s an opportunity to go on a foreign jaunt all paid holiday, “5” star, etc. But, to participate you have to get the Minister of Defence Production & Supplies (DDP&S) to swallow the bait, they are only too willing to grab such opportunities. By their own( if they are to merely go alone), then, the PMO has to approve all visits abroad for Ministers and Secretaries. So the proposal is made in such a way, that it’s turned into a Ministry level delegation, where meetings are scheduled with Minister of the host country as well as Chiefs of other Countries who are on an Arms Shopping spree. It’s a huge jamboree, on an unprecedented scale. UAE. buys Arms by the tons, Petro dollars have to be spent. Their entire set up is manned by Pakistani Armed forces personnel on Deputation to the UAE military.
We we’re lucky to get the best stall location because the Director of the UAE Exb a Brig had done NDC in India, and he became very close friends. Entry into The UAE those days was a scary experience. They almost treated people like cattle, “gora ya kala” (black or white) made no difference. At the entry to the exhibition security was unprecedented , every one without exception had to take off his shoes, belt etc to pass, very humiliating, and the Brigadeer made sure he rubbed it into the Brits. So when our turn came, he said “Colonel” there’s no need for that just walk through. The “goras” would have swallowed us alive, but they could do nothing after all they needed to sell Arms. Frankly as every one knew we really never had any thing ever to offer, and that’s what I was coming to. This was the setting of the story.
The Indian contingent includes HAL (who have nothing to offer) they carry a Boeing door, to every exhibition, which Boeing company had asked them to make, many years ago, but those version have become obsolete, so we use them for our own ageing fleet, and show it as important substitution, meaning we don’t have to import the doors. That is shown as money saved. This door that used to be displayed as the centre-piece. Then came DRDO, labs 52 of them represented by a few Sc, carrying dehydrated food packets, which made quite an embarrassing site, it looked like 3rd world product. But we we’re very proud. Then came the “piece Dela piece”, the OFB – represented by their Senior most Additional Secretary level officer. A video of very own Battle tank Arjun or INS Delhi (yes a good Destroyer, impressed Dr Mohammed Mahatir, who was the PM of Malaysia, in 1999, at the Lankawi Maritime show “LIMA”) would be running in the background.
OFB used to carry their INSAS rifle , which even we have discarded, and their 7.62 mm rifle ammunition, which was laid on the glass table right at the entrance to the stand. The crown Prince who was also the Defence Minister was going around the stands, and came over to ours. Must give it to them, they are not the same “Beduins”, who rode camels with , Col TE Lawrence , “Lawrence of Arabia”, they have come a
long way in etiquettes, class every thing.
The Additional Secretary “insisted” on showing him how sophisticated our ammunition manufacturing was.
The Crown Prince cum Defence Minister with his entire Entourage of Generals media etc very reluctantly *picked up* one round and asked ….. *do you see the Rim of these rounds they are are oval*.
That’s the most serious defect one can have in a front line ammunition.
With a straight face our Jhonny said “No Sir” there is “NO ovalty” (novelty).
Obviously the fool didn’t factor in that no one in this Kingdoms ever contradicts their Crown Princes in public, that too in front of his entire Brass. Keeping his cool, His Exciliency held the round and rolled it on the Glass table. That glass was the best glass in the world all of which are imported to the UAE, and was provided to us by the local stand fitter. Just as the round was rolled, it went “katak katak katak katak” with each turn on the Glass.
The Crown Prince just looked at our Additional Secretary, hoping he would concede, but that was not to be. After all we are proud Indians and how dare this camel riding nomad get the better of us. So the AS said Excellency, the glass on the table is not flat.
That was more than the Crown Prince could take, so he said, well are you aware that your country exported ( he quoted some figure of millions of rounds), to Vietnam, and they are still lying unclaimed at the Port of unloading, All of them have “ovalty” in their Rims and have been rejected. No one wants them as they are useless nor are you willing to spend more to get them back. Than for good measure he rubbed it in further by adding “you” also sent this defective ammo to Algeria , who have returned it for the same reason.
That ended our quest for exporting ammunition to the third world, or so we believe, them Arabs to be third world.
Are our troops being given the same defective substandard OFB ammunition all under the garb of Made in India. Yes. After all if we can try to “fool” the Crown Prince who had all his facts and a “keen” eye for detail, and try and shove it down his throat,
I leave that for you to judge!
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¹IDEX is regarded as the only international defence exhibition and conference in the MENA region demonstrating the latest technology across land, sea and air sectors of defence.
IDEX is held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE and Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and is organised by the IDEX LLC in association and with the full support of the UAE Armed Forces.