A stretch of the Agra-Lucknow expressway in Uttar Pradesh is set to become a road runway for combat jets of the Indian Air Force (IAF), a first for military aviation in the country.
A delegation of officers from Air Force Station Bakshi Ka Talab in Lucknow will meet chief minister Akhilesh Yadav on Monday to seal a deal on the issue, an officer in the CM’s secretariat said.
The IAF presented the proposal to the state government after ascertaining details of the Agra-Lucknow expressway, the longest greenfield expressway in the country. The IAF will work with state government officers to select a nearly three-kilometre segment that can be turned into an airstrip. The IAF will also bear the cost of the project.
Chief secretary Alok Ranjan and officers of the Uttar Pradesh Expressways Industrial Development Authority will also attend Monday’s meeting.
Sources said the segment to be used as a road runway will have to be straight, level and located on non-undulating ground without any slope.
“We have land as wide as 110 metres and the width of the expressway will be over 50 metres, which is wider than normal airstrips,” said the officer in the CM’s secretariat.
The road runway segment will not have electricity poles, masts or mobile phone towers. There will be portable ground lighting systems that can be quickly placed on the roadsides to guide aircraft during landings.
China, Pakistan, Sweden, Germany and Singapore are among the countries that have road runways, but this will be a first for India. Road runways assume importance if airbases are crippled during hostilities.
The Pakistan Air Force has demonstrated its ability to land a range of combat and transport aircraft on the Islamabad-Lahore Motorway. During an exercise in 2010, two fighter jets landed on the motorway.