Sir ji, Is it so? We been hearing this story from 90s....But meeting after meeting with Russians to solve this, nothing concrete happened as this dragged till the point where Gen VK Singh mentioned this issue ( that is last year). If this is all about ammunition and nothing to do with barrel, why the decision to replace it with T-90 barrel but not to use the rectified T-72 barrel? Why there is as much of barrel burst observed in both imported as well as local made T-72 barrels? <SNIP>
Kanson - the article in Hindu by ex-OFB official is quite economical on facts. It presents the story in a manner as if OFB smells of roses.
It is a well documented fact that T-72 barrel bursting has happened on two counts - defective barrels manufactured by OFB and faulty ammunition. And it is incorrect to say that till the Russians were roped in we did not know about what the issue was or what was the correct way of going about doing things.Point 1 - T-72 barrel burst due to defective manufacturing.
Here is the CAG Report on the issue of barrel bursting from 2000:http://cag.nic.in/html/reports/defence/2000_book2/index.htm
Point 2 - Defective Tank ammunition manufactured by OFBhttp://cag.nic.in/html/reports/defence/2003_army/index.htm
20. Rejection of barrels manufactured for T-72 tanks
Director General Ordnance Factories deviated from manufacturing technique without consulting the original designer. This resulted in defective manufacture of barrels valued at Rs 45.07 crore affecting the performance of T-72 tanks.
Director General Ordnance Factories manufactured 770 barrels for T-72 tanks deviating from critical heat treatment schedule for tempering of barrels without consulting the original designer. This resulted in manufacture of defective barrels. 11 barrels burst in firing from tanks causing accidents. 454 defective barrels valued at Rs 44 crore were held in stock and the remaining 305 barrels fitted in the tanks were under process of investigation as of June 1999. The case is as under:
DDPS placed order on MIDHANI for supply of 774 barrels
Department of Defence Production and Supplies placed an order on Mishra Dhatu Nigam Limited., Hyderabad in October 1989 for supply of 774 barrels to be fitted in T-72 tanks, at a cost of Rs 67.73 crore. Mishra Dhatu Nigam Limited, in turn, placed a letter of intent in March 1990 on Director General Ordnance Factories for converting black forging hot rolled bars i.e. input raw materials into finished, machined and tested barrels. The letter of intent envisaged that the tempering of barrels would be carried out in two stages viz. in first stage in the temperature range of 520-550�C and in the second stage in the temperature range of 530-570�C. The barrels were to be supplied by the Director General Ordnance Factories to Central Ordnance Depot Jabalpur only after testing by Controllerate of Quality Assurance (weapons) Jabalpur.
MIDHANI placed a letter of intent on DGOF for converting forgings into barrels
The responsibility for quality assurance of items manufactured in Ordnance factories rests with the manufacturing factory. Director General Quality Assurance and Inspectorates under him are responsible for surveillance, quality audit and final acceptance inspection. In surveillance check of barrels during manufacture in Field Gun Factory, Kanpur in 1990, when one of the barrels broke in the straightening operation, the Quality Assurance Establishment (Field Gun), notified the Factory that to avoid such breakage, the heat treatment should be carried out at 520�C-570�C as provided by designer. The Field Gun Factory Kanpur however, continued tempering the forgings at reduced temperature even below 430�C, on the plea that the protocol signed by it with Russian team in 1985, permitted the heat treatment at lower range.
One barrel broke in FGF, Kanpur
QAE(FG) pointed out that heat treatment should be at 520�C -570�C
FGF Kanpur continued tempering the forgings at temperature below 430�C
Field Gun Factory supplied 770 barrels to the Central Ordnance Depot Jabalpur between 1992 and 1996. The Quality Assurance Establishment had, however, passed these barrels despite their tempering at reduced temperature, as fit for use. Department of Defence Production and Supplies paid Rs 74.67 crore inclusive of price escalation to Mishra Dattu Nigam Limited.
11 barrels cracked/ burst during firing causing accidents
Foreign specialists attributed accidents to deviation in tempering temperature
Army decided in December 1997 to withdraw all the barrels
During firing in September 1992, from a T-72 tank, the barrel cracked causing an accident. Further in 35 more accidents occurred till March 1998, ten more barrels cracked/burst. Russian specialists, who investigated the cause(s) of the accidents, observed that the deviation from prescribed tempering temperature was the direct cause of such breakages, and that the protocol signed in 1985 was without consulting the original designer.
Army Headquarters decided in December 1997 to withdraw all barrels tempered at 460�C and below. As of June 1998, 454 such barrels valued at Rs 44 crore from stock were identified and rejected and remaining 305 barrels fitted on tanks were under investigation. Tempering of barrels were now being done at temperatures above 500�C.
In response to Audit observation, Ordnance Factory Board stated in August 1998 that reduced band of heating during tempering was a modification in the technological process to suit Indian conditions of available plant and machinery. The reply is not acceptable since the modification was done without consulting the original designer and subsequent accidents had been directly ascribed to this.
The matter was referred to the Ministry in September 1999; their reply was awaited as of December 1999.
- 2003 CAG Report.
8.Idle investment on manufacture of defective ammunition
On account of defects in manufacture of an ammunition for tanks, as many as 1.35 lakh shells valued at Rs 607.43 crore were held in segregated conditions by the five Army Commands pending their rectification/ replacement by the Ordnance Factory concerned, rendering the investment on their manufacture unproductive.
The Ordnance Factory, Khamaria, had been manufacturing and supplying a particular type of ammunition used in one of the tanks of the Army.
In October 2000, an accident occurred to a tank using this ammunition at Babina following its failure, in which the driver of the tank was killed and the tank commander and gunner survived after being critically injured. Following trials conducted on the ammunition, it was found to be of poor quality and unsatisfactory in performance on account of (i) poor quality of the projectile and charger; (ii) the projectile getting detached from its casing on many occasions; (iii) the tendency of the outer casing to leave a burning residue in the gun tube/charger posing a fire hazard. Besides, the performance of the ammunition was also found to be inconsistent and unsatisfactory during zeroing check and in respect of its accuracy, penetration and stowage.
A ban was therefore imposed on issue of the ammunition to the units in the five Commands and the Factory was also instructed to suspend its production.
Subsequent investigation by the Directorate General of Quality Assurance revealed that certain lots of the ammunition were of a hybrid version and the remaining lots were of an indigenous version. In January 2002, the Army Headquarters decided all ammunition of the hybrid version would be declared unserviceable and back loaded to the Ordnance Factory Board, while the rejected lots of its indigenous version would be replaced free of cost.
Based on this decision, the Master General of Ordnance branch of the Army Headquarters informed the Army Commands in June 2002 that the ammunition would be rectified/replaced by the Ordnance Factory Board in a phased manner. The latter was also requested to carry out the rectification on fast track basis.
Pending backloading of the ammunition to the Ordnance Factory in a phased manner, the five Army Commands were holding 1,34,986 shells valued at Rs 607.43 crore under segregated conditions. In respect of 1,23,794 of these shells valued at Rs 557.06 crore, 40 per cent of the shelf life of 10 years had expired while the shelf life of another 11,192 shells valued at Rs 50.36 crore had already been halved.
The defective ammunition not yet having been rectified, the investment of Rs 607.43 crore on its manufacture had been rendered idle and unproductive, apart from the additional investments that will be necessary for their rectification/replacement.
The matter was referred to the Ministry in May 2002; their reply was awaited as of January 2003.
This aspect of defective T-72 ammunition was further covered in 2010-2011 CAG Report where it was highlighted that the defective ammunition had not been rectified. It also pulled by the IA on not contacting the seller for replacement of defective direct import ammunition (imported during Op-Vijay).