Here’s why 20 Indian Air Force jets will land on Lucknow-Agra Expressway
Transport aircraft AN-32, Mirage 2000 and Sukhoi 30 MKI will land and take off from the highway.india Updated: Oct 23, 2017 16:17 IST
The Lucknow-Agra Expressway has been closed for commuters as the Indian Air Force plans to conduct a touchdown exercise on Tuesday involving 20 planes, including the AN-32, Mirage 2000 and Sukhoi 30 MKI.
This is for the first time that the transport aircraft AN-32 will land and then take off from the highway, an official said.
The Indian Air Force wants new public roads to be designed to serve as runways for its warplanes, providing an alternative for launching operations if key airfields are bombed out by the enemy, a top officer told Hindustan Times in 2016.
The IAF, which has 53 airfields across the country, has firmed up an ambitious plan for emergency airstrips in important sectors — identifying road locations, minimum infrastructure requirement and portable logistics support.
It had earlier shared the plan for backup runways with the ministry of road transport and highways.
As part of its plan to use highways as runways, the IAF landed a Mirage 2000 fighter on the Yamuna Expressway in 2015, days after two combat planes landed on an airstrip in Saifai village in UP’s Etawah.
Countries known to have emergency airstrips on highways include China, Germany, Sweden and Singapore.
The IAF has cleared 12 National Highways as emergency landing airstrips that will enable rescue operation teams to reach affected areas easily, an official responsible for executing the project told IANS.
Although there was initially a proposal to develop a total of 21 NHs into airstrips, for now 12 highways have been cleared, with three of those connecting Odisha, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh -- all Maoist-affected areas, which also witness vagaries of nature like floods and cyclones almost every year.
“The IAF has given clearance to 12 NHs to be developed into emergency landing airstrips out of the total 21. However, on the remaining NHs, discussions and testing are on and soon they too are likely to be cleared by the IAF,” a senior government official, requesting anonymity, told IANS.
With IANS inputs
First Published: Oct 23, 2017 16:17 IST