IAF drill: aircraft land on expressway

22 road stretches identified for practise

IAF drill: aircraft land on expressway

Sixteen fighter jets and transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) on Tuesday made a touchdown on the Lucknow-Agra Expressway near Bangarmau in Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao district, about 60 km from Lucknow, before thousands of mesmerized onlookers.

IAF’s Sukhoi-30, Mirage-2000 and Jaguar fighter aircraft undertook a touch-and-go exercise on the highway between 10 am and noon, after taking off from Bareilly, Gwalior and Gorakhpur respectively. It was a practice drill on emergency landing.

The first and only plane to land was C-130J Super Hercules that dropped the IAF Garud commandos and their vehicle in a combat manoeuvre.This was followed by the touch-and-go by two sets of Mirage-2000 in two batches of three aircraft each, five Su-30 MKI and three Jaguars. At the end, another C-130J came back to extricate the commandos.

“Over the past few years, IAF has been increasing its efforts to utilise certain straight stretches of National Highways for emergency landings to increase the flexibility in the use of air power,” the defence ministry said in a statement.

IAF carried out the first such landing in May 2015 when Mirage-2000 landed on the Yamuna expressway. The Agra–Lucknow expressway was activated for the first time in November 2016 when six IAF fighters including the Su-30MKI landed on the road.

On Tuesday, Jaguars for the first time touched down on a highway. Also it was the maiden highway landing for the C-130J transport aircraft, which is capable of landing even on unpaved surface.

Highway landing is not an uncommon phenomenon in the air forces around the world. Germany, Sweden, South Korea, Taiwan, Finland, Switzerland, Poland, Singapore, Czechoslovakia, Vietnam and Pakistan have dedicated stretches on their highways for aircraft to land and take off in emergencies or war like situations.

The E-way had been closed for traffic for the past few days to enable the IAF jets to undertake, practice sorties. Thousands of people, many of whom came from far off districts in UP, witnessed the rehearsal.

 

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