THE Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) on Monday launched a small arms barrel manufacturing facility at its Pune-based laboratory, Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE). The facility will mainly cater to the requirement of the private sector small arms manufacturers and will also be a key asset for the DRDO’s own research and development efforts.
The facility, which has been constructed at a cost of close to Rs 60 crore, was inaugurated by Dr Shailendra V Gade, Director General, Armament and Combat Engineering Systems of the DRDO on Monday on the premises of the ARDE in Pashan. The facility consists of three sequential machines with the third and most important being the Austrian- origin barrel forging machine procured at a cost of 3.2 million Euros. The machine has a fully automatic operation sequence and comprises a six axe robot that performs the task.
ARDE Director Ankathi Raju said, “In small arms, the quality of its components is crucial and the barrel is the most important part of a gun. The quality and reliability of the barrels is paramount. For example, if 2,000 rounds are to be fired without stop, consider the quality checks that are required. The ordnance factories have got these barrel production facilities. The facility at the ARDE will cater to the industries. We will implement them as turnkey projects. The industry will tell you the calibre, length and other parameters etc. We have the ballistic database with us. We will design the barrel based on industry requirements and produce it. We will also test the barrel and deliver it to the industry. This project was sanctioned three years ago and it is now operational.”
A lot of private industries have now got licenses to manufacture small arms.
But the problem has always been the barrel. Remaining components can be manufactured but not the barrel, because it required capital intensive facilities, like the one that was inaugurated.
“The private industries of all sizes who have small arms manufacturing licences will benefit from this facility. These companies will manufacture arms for not just Indian entities but can also export them. India has nearly 30 customer entities for small arms. Apart from armed forces, there are paramilitary and central armed police forces and state police forces many of whom have specialised commando units. If we aggregate them, it is a big market.” said a senior scientist.