IAS helicopters used in containing locust attack

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Anticipating the Locust attack in view of the breeding season, the Ministry of Agriculture has signed a contract with Micron, UK, to modify two Mi-17 Helicopters of the Indian Air Force (IAF) for spraying atomized pesticide to arrest Locust attack and breeding.

Due to COVID-19 pandemic, the UK based firm would be able to manufacture and supply the modification kit to IAF only from Sep 2020 onward for system integration and testing. In the meanwhile, an unprecedented Locust attack started manifesting from last week of May and was fast spreading practically across many States. 

In view of the envisaged delay in provisioning of modification kits by Micron, the Indian Air Force tasked No. 3 Base Repair Depot located at Chandigarh to undertake the challenging task of indigenously designing and developing an Airborne Locust Control System (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 litres 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.