Two government-run arms makers have thrown open their firing ranges for use by private companies to test their equipment in a first-of-its-kind initiative under the “Make in India” programme. The firing ranges at Ordnance Factory, Trichy, in Tamil Nadu and the Rifle Factory, Ishapore, in West Bengal have made the “We are open” move to power the government’s push to expand defence industrial production through private participation.
Making weapons for security services had been a strict prerogative of the government all these years but there has been a policy shift.
There are over 60 firing ranges belonging to the defence forces spread across the country.
In addition, in 2018 the Defence Ministry approved 17 new firing ranges which are smaller in size and are under covered areas to prevent accidents due to stray bullets. An official at the Ishapore Rifle Factory said they were yet to receive any application from private players.
The factory has three firing ranges for testing weapons with a range of 50 to 550 meters.”Various types of small arms, tear gas gun, pump-action guns, rifles and pistols are tested at our firing ranges. No private company has approached us for testing their weapons here,” said the official. The Ordnance Factory in Trichy (OFT) has facilities for testing grenades and small weapons like assault rifles and air defence guns in its firing ranges.
“We also have the facility for testing medium-range weapons like the 30-mm gun. Weapons are tested in our ranges for accuracy and functionality. The maximum range available for the grenade is between 1 kilometre and 750 meters,” said an OFT official. The Trichy unit is the largest small arms manufacturing company and produces the most varied range. It was started in 1966 and began production a year later. The Ishapore or Ichhapur factory dates back to 1787 and the modern unit was set up in 1904