To deal with the unprecedented Locust attack, which has been spreading across many states, No. 3 Base Repair Depot of the Indian Air Force (IAF) located at Chandigarh has been asked to undertake the challenging task of indigenously designing and developing an Airborne Locust Control System (ALCS) for Mi-17 helicopters. According to the IAF, “In the ALCS, all indigenous components have been used and the atomized airborne spraying of pesticide has been successfully achieved. This was air through a configuration of nozzles mounted both sides on external trusses of a Mi-17 helicopter. The nozzles used for the purpose are a mix of commercially available nozzles as well as the nozzles developed by CSIO, Chandigarh.”
Since it has been developed indigenously, the ALCS not only helps in saving foreign exchange and making the country self-reliant in aviation-related technology, it also offers advantages of in-house maintenance, and future upgradability.
More about ALCS
The pesticide Malathion in appropriate concentration would be filled in the internal Auxiliary tank of 800 litres capacity.
This will be fitted inside the helicopter and pumped into the nozzles by using an electrical pump as well as compressed air.
Will achieve nearly 40 minutes of spraying duration in the infected zone.
It will cover an area of approximately 750 hectares in each mission.
How did IAF get involved?
The Ministry of Agriculture had inked a contract with M/s Micron, the UK to modify two Mi-17 Helicopters for spraying atomized pesticide to arrest Locust breeding in May 2020.
Since there was a global lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK based firm has indicated that it will supply the modification kit only in September to the IAF for system integration and testing.
Once the ALCS was made at the No-3 Base Depot, a team of Test Pilots and Test Engineers of Aircraft and Systems Testing Establishment, Bangalore carried out ground and airborne trials on a modified Mi-17 helicopter.
This system is now being offered by the IAF to be used with Malathion for controlling locust control operation.