BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. --
U.S. Air Force C-130H Hercules aircraft, equipped with Modular Aerial Spray Systems (MASS), and approximately 85 Reserve Citizen Airmen from the 910th Airlift Wing, Youngstown Air Reserve Station, Ohio, deployed to Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, to conduct mosquito control aerial spray missions over southern Louisiana.
The C-130s and their aircrews including pilots, flight engineers, navigators, loadmasters who also double as aerial spray operators and an entomologist have been spraying since Oct. 20, 2020, and have treated nearly half a million acres as of Oct. 25, 2020. Ground support personnel for the mission include additional entomologists, operations support mission planners, aerial spray maintenance, communications, aircraft maintenance, squadron aviation resource managers, aircrew flight equipment and a command team including a mission commander, director of operations, a mission first sergeant and public affairs representatives.
At the request of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and upon approval by the Department of Defense, U.S. Northern Command activated the 910th AW to provide aerial spray capability to assist civil authorities in Louisiana.
“Our military men and women are privileged to be able to assist the interagency team and people of Louisiana as they recover from the recent hurricanes Delta and Laura,” said Lt. Gen. Kirk Pierce, commander, First Air Force, Air Forces Northern. “The Air Force Reserve’s 910th Aerial Spray Flight normally conducts spray missions at dusk and nighttime hours using night vision technology when pest insects are most active, and the 910th’s men and women are longtime pros at this mission.”
Air Forces Northern (AFNORTH), U.S. Northern Command's U.S. Air Force air component command, is the DoD operational lead for the mission.
The heavy rains from the recent hurricanes have resulted in large areas across southwest Louisiana increasing number of mosquitoes, which can spread disease and also hinder recovery workers, resulting in less time in the field. The Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness says the C-130s are scheduled to spray in Acadia, Calcasieu, Cameron, Iberia, Jeff Davis, Lafayette and Vermilion parishes.
“The 910th is here to assist the people of Louisiana in their time of need by providing our unique aerial spray capability,” said Lt. Col. Sean Grenier, commander for the 910th’s mission flying out of Barksdale. “We are prepared to conduct spray operations as long as it takes to treat the areas assigned to us by FEMA and AFNORTH.”
Grenier added that the 2nd Bomb Wing, the host unit at Barksdale, provided the 910th with invaluable assistance such as the use of facilities and logistical support during the spray operations.
The 910th Airlift Wing aerial spray missions use only Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered materials. Aerial Spray is a highly controlled application using a specially-designed Modular Aerial Spray System (MASS) dispersing no more than one ounce of product per acre.
The 910th AW is home to the Department of Defense's only aerial spray capability and dedicated aerial spray maintenance flight. The last time the 910th AW supported FEMA hurricane recovery efforts with its aerial spray mission was 2017 when they treated 2.7 million acres of affected areas following Hurricane Harvey.