NEW DELHI — Russia and India will set up facilities here to manufacture ammunition for the Russian-made Smerch multiple barrel rocket launcher (MBRL). India’s state-owned Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) signed a memorandum of understanding for a joint venture with Russia’s Rosoboronexport and Splav SPA to manufacture the ammunition in India.
“Russia is to manufacture five versions of Smerch rockets based on the technology received from Russia. The Smerch rockets are technologically superior, having a range of 70-80 kilometers. With formation of this Joint Venture, a new chapter in the Indo-Russian friendship will commence,” said an Indian Defence Ministry release.
The Smerch manufacturing project is worth $500 million, and it is being set up at Ambajari in the central Indian state of Maharashtra. The equity structure of the joint venture has yet to be finalized. A Defence Ministry official said the joint venture could be used to fulfill mandatory offset requirements from previous Russian deals.
The former Indian Army chief, Gen. V.K. Singh, last year informed Defence Minister A.K. Antony in a letter that there are “critical shortages” of some variety of Army ammunition.
“After indigenizing the technology of Smerch rockets, OFB will attain new heights in manufacturing of advanced Rocket system,” added the official release.
The Army uses the Russian-made Smerch MBRL along with Russian-origin Grad 122mm rocket systems and homemade Pinaka MBRL to increase the Army’s firepower.