New Delhi: Indian Air Force choppers will now be deployed to tackle the worst Locusts attack the country is anticipating in 27 years.
Ministry of Agriculture had signed a contract with M/s Micron, a U.K based firm to modify two Mi-17 Helicopters for spraying atomized pesticide to arrest Locust breeding in May 2020.
However due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.K firm will only be manufacturing and supplying the modification kit to Indian Airforce from September onwards for system integration and testing.
Considering the delay in acquiring of the modification kits by M/s Micron, the Indian Air Force decided to indigenously design and develop an Airborne Locust Control System (ALCS) for Mi-17 helicopters.
IAF has tasked No. 3 Base Repair Depot located at Chandigarh to undertake the challenging task of these anti-locusts ops.
An unprecedented Locust attack started manifesting from the last week of May and was fast spreading across many states in the country.
With all indigenous components, the system of 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 in appropriate 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.
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.
Being an indigenously developed system, 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.