Ordnance Board to produce `cargo ammunition' with Israeli company

Special Correspondent

Ministry sees substantial export potential; rights group against cargo ammunition

Joint venture described as a breakthrough of sorts for the OFBCargo ammunition will enhance importance of artillery on battlefield: IMI

NEW DELHI: The public sector Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) is preparing to enter into a joint venture to manufacture `cargo ammunition' in collaboration with an Israeli company.

The Defence Ministry sees substantial export potential for this type of ammunition, which maims but does not kill. Human rights organisation, however, are against the philosophy behind cargo ammunition leading to some leading manufacturers stopping its production.

As a result, this is one conventional arms segment where there is a possibility of OFB breaking into the export market. So far, its annual exports have been in the range of Rs. 100 crore, most of them to countries like Nepal.

The OFB also plans to entrust the marketing of the ammunition in the world market to the Israelis as well. This would be the Indian defence sector's second marketing agreement with Israel. Earlier, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) tied up with a company from Israel to sell its helicopters in South American countries.

Sources described the joint venture as a breakthrough of sorts for the OFB. For long, OFB products have been rejected in many countries despite being price competitive. Many items sought to be sold abroad were of indigenous design or of ex-Soviet origin whereas most countries use NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) compatible products.

The ammunition would be produced at the OFB's state-of-the-art factory at Khamaria. According to IMI (Israel Military Industries), "the effect of an artillery weapon system on the battlefield depends on the type of ordnance employed against enemy forces.

Cargo ammunition of various calibres will dramatically enhance the importance of artillery on the battlefield. The procurement of cargo ammunition is vital for the modern artillery corps. This ensures its operational readiness, while at the same time extending its deterrent power."

According to the doctrine favouring the use of cargo ammunition, it is better to maim a person for this will tie up at least four others to evacuate him and provide him treatment.

Israel is said to be using a similar type of ammunition in its invasion of Lebanon. These explosives have high chemical content leading to severe burn injuries and amputations of limbs.