News Desk: To overcome the difficulties faced in locust control operations, the Indian Air Force has natively designed and developed an Airborne Locust Control System (ALCS).
In May 2020, the Ministry of Agriculture signed a contract with UK based M/s Micron to modify 2 Mi-17 Helicopters for spraying atomized pesticides to halt Locust breeding. But, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK based firm would be able to manufacture and supply all the modification kits to IAF only from September 2020.
Due to this delay by M/s Micron, the Indian Air Force tasked the Chandigarh based No. 3 Base Repair Depot to undertake the challenging task to design and develop a native Airborne Locust Control System (ALCS) for the 2 Mi-17 helicopters.
The atomized airborne spraying of pesticide has been successfully achieved in air through a configuration of nozzles mounted on both sides on external trusses of a Mi-17 helicopter. The nozzles used for the purpose are a mix of nozzles developed by CSIO (A Council of Scientific and Industrial Research lab based in Chandigarh) and the commercially available nozzles.
A team of test pilots and test engineers of aircraft and Systems Testing Establishment, Bangalore have successfully carried out ground and airborne trials of Airborne Locust Control System (ALCS) on a modified Mi-17 helicopter.
The pesticide malathion inappropriate concentration would be filled in the internal auxiliary tank of 800 Litres capacity fitted inside the helicopter and pumped into the nozzles by using an electrical pump as well as compressed air. An approximate area of 750 Hectares can be covered in each mission, achieving nearly 40 minutes of spaying duration in the infected zone.