In yet another crucial drill of the Indian Air Force, around 20 planes will be landed and taken off from the Lucknow-Agra Expressway next week in an attempt to train the pilots to operate from such platforms in critical situations. Amogst the aircrafts selected for this purpose will also include a transport aircraft like AN-32 plane apart from fighters like Mirage 2000 and Sukhoi 30MKI.
The local administration meanwhile informed that no vehicles will be allowed to run on the stretch of the expressway which will be used as a landing strip. The IAF aircraft will land on the stretch of the expressway near Bangarmau in Unnao district, some 65 kilometres from Uttar Pradesh’s capital Lucknow, Gargi Malik Sinha, Public Relations Officer of Defence, Central Command told news agency PTI.
“It is for the first time any transport aircraft will land and then take off (from a road). The AN-32s are meant for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief during floods or any other natural calamity,” Ms Sinha said. “The aircraft can bring a large amount of relief material. It can also help in evacuating people.”
Several countries allow their air force to practice landing on and taking off from large highways in order to ensure air operations continue even when an airbase has been knocked out by enemy forces or natural disaster. Switzerland has several such highways that can be used as landing strips by its air force.
In May 2015, a Mirage 2000 fighter jet of the IAF test-landed on the Yamuna Expressway near Delhi as part of a drill for emergency landings on national highways. Another six IAF fighter jets — Sukhoi 30MKIs and Mirage 2000s — performed simulated landings in November 2016 when the Agra-Lucknow Expressway was inaugurated.