In spectacular show, IAF planes make a touchdown on Lucknow-Agra Expressway | india-news | Hindustan Times
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In spectacular show, IAF planes make a touchdown on Lucknow-Agra Expressway

This is the first time that any transport aircraft landed and took off on the Lucknow-Agra Expressway in Unnao.

india Updated: Oct 24, 2017 14:38 IST
Oliver Fredrick
An Indian Air Force transport aircraft, a C-130 Hercules lands on the Lucknow-Agra Expressway during an IAF drill in Bangarmau, in Unnao district on Tuesday.
An Indian Air Force transport aircraft, a C-130 Hercules lands on the Lucknow-Agra Expressway during an IAF drill in Bangarmau, in Unnao district on Tuesday. (PTI Photo)

In a spectacular display, as many as 17 planes of the Indian Air Force (IAF) took part in the aircraft touchdown exercise on the Lucknow-Agra Expressway near Bangarmau in Unnao district, 55 kms from Lucknow, on Tuesday.

This is a first of its kind exercise where such a large number of aircrafts, especially heavy duty C-130J Super Hercules, took part in touchdown or short landing exercise on any highway.

A Sukhoi 30 MKI touches down on the Lucknow-Agra Expressway in Bangarmau. (Subhankar Chakraborty)

The exercise started at 10:03 am when C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft hit the highway. In a short landing, one of the most versatile aircrafts capable of landing with troops and equipment at advanced landing grounds with short runways, landed with Garud commandos and their vehicles.

After disembarking from the aircraft, the commandos took their positions on either side of the highway-turned-airstrip to cordon it off for fighter operations that followed.

An Indian Air Force Mirage 2000 fighter jet lands on the Lucknow-Agra Expressway during an IAF drill in Bangarmau, in Unnao district on Tuesday. (PTI Photo)

It was followed by three Jaguar deep-penetration strike aircraft, two formations of three aircrafts each of Mirages and two formations of three aircraft each of Sukhoi-30 that left the crowd in awe.

“It is thrilling to watch the killing machines. It was an inspiring show that will surely motivate many like me to be a part of the IAF,” said a college student, who had come all the way from Lucknow to witness the show.

The exercise culminated with the return of C-130J that made another short landing to extricate the on-guard Garud commandos. The exercise on Lucknow-Agra Expressway is said to be a part of state government’s plan to identify and develop highways which can be used as runways in case of emergency landings.

“It is a one of its kind touchdown exercise where 17 aircrafts took part in the drill. At times of war, the designated airstrips are often targeted by the enemy. These highway-cum-airstrips will be helpful in case of emergency,” a senior IAF officer said.

An Indian Air Force Mirage 2000 fighter jet lands on the Lucknow-Agra Expressway during an IAF drill in Bangarmau, in Unnao district on Tuesday. (PTI Photo)

“It is perhaps for the same reason why we continue to practice on such thin tracks that are half the width of the normal airstrip,” the officer added.

This is the fourth touchdown exercise to take place in UP. In November 2016, IAF had landed seven of its Sukhoi and Mirage 2000 planes on the Unnao section of 302-km long expressway that was among the prime projects of former the Samajwadi Party (SP) government. The expressway was completed in record time of 22 months and was inaugurated by SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav.

A formation of three IAF mirage 2000 single-engine, multirole fighter jets seen mid-air during the touchdown drill. (Subhankar Chakraborty/HT Photo)

Prior to this, IAF had also carried out the aircraft touchdown exercise on Safai village airstrip and on Yamuna Expressway in 2015.

“About 17 aircrafts took part in the touchdown and short landing drive. It was also a rare show as never before such a large number of aircrafts have participated in any such exercise on a highway,” public relations officer, defence, Gargi Malik Sinha said.