New Delhi, July 01: In order to control the locust attack, the Indian Air Force developed an Airborne Locust Control System (ALCS) on two Mi-17 Helicopters for spraying atomized pesticide to mitigate the locust breeding. The ALCS would offer inherent advantages of in-house maintenance, future upgradeability, saving of foreign exchange, and help in making the country Self Reliant in aviation-related technology as it is an indigenously developed system.
The IAF tasked No. 3 Base Repair Depot located at Chandigarh undertook the challenging task of indigenously designing and developing an ALCS for Mi-17 helicopters. Using all indigenous components, the atomized airborne spraying of pesticide has been successfully achieved in 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. The pesticide 'Malathion' inappropriate concentration would be filled in the internal auxiliary tank of 800 liters capacity fitted inside the helicopter and pumped into the nozzles by using an electrical pump as well as compressed air, achieving nearly 40 minutes of spaying duration in the infected zone covering an area of approximately 750 hectares in each mission," the statement read.
Further, it added that a team of Test Pilots and Test Engineers of Aircraft and Systems Testing Establishment, Bangalore have successfully carried out ground and airborne trials of ALCS on a modified Mi-17 helicopter. The system is being offered for use with Malathion for employment in the locust control operation.
On the other hand, the Ministry of Agriculture locked a deal with M/s Micron, a UK-based firm, that would be able to manufacture and supply the modification kit to IAF only from Sep 2020 onward for system integration and testing. However, there will be envisaged delays in the provisioning of modification kits by the firm.
Meanwhile, an unprecedented locust attack started manifesting from the last week of May and was fast spreading practically across many states.