In pics: IAF’s Sukhoi, Mirage jets ‘touch down’ on Agra-Lucknow Expressway
In a first for any road launch, six fighter jets of the IAF on Monday made a touchdown, barely skimming the road before taking off to mark the opening of the Agra-Lucknow Expressway which can be also used for war-like emergency situations.
This 3.3-km stretch of the 302-km expressway can be used to land jets in emergencies when the military air fields are not available.
The dream project of Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav was inaugurated by his father and SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav on the eve of Mulayam’s birthday.
Three Mirage 2000 and three Sukhoi-30 jets of the Indian Air Force(IAF) carried out the ‘touch and go’ on a portion of the newly constructed Expressway which has an RCC construction and reinforced and appropriately marked to facilitate aircraft landings. The portion used for the operations is located at Ganj Moradabad in Unnao District in UP.
The aim of the exercise was to check feasibility of Expressways being used as alternate airstrips in case of dire emergencies or non-availability of runways for any reason, a defence official said.
The six-lane expressway, which is India’s longest, is expected to considerably reduce the travel time between Lucknow and Delhi which usually takes 12 to 14 hours.
All facilities — such as a makeshift Air Traffic Control, safety services, rescue vehicles, bird clearance parties — were set up by the IAF, which also supervised the runway section of the expressway’s construction under technical specifications.
Thousands of villagers and onlookers gathered to witness the rare event, as fighter jets whizzed past, almost skimming the road before roaring off into the sky again. The landings, air force officials said, are simulated and the jets don’t touch the road as it would damage the wheels.
“The aircrafts flew over the expressway at a speed of nearly 300km/hour at around 1:07 pm,” said a senior IAF officer.