IAF lands fighter jets on Agra-Lucknow Expressway

PTI Unnao (UP) | Updated on January 08, 2018 Published on October 24, 2017

A Sukhoi MKI 30 aircraft over the Agra-Lucknow Expressway near Bangarmau in Unnao district, about 80 kms from Lucknow during the 'land and take off' exercise involving 17 aircraft, in the three-hour drill to prepare for any emergencies, on Tuesday. Photo: Rajeev Bhatt   -  The Hindu

Super Hercules part of the drill

Fighter and transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) on Tuesday performed breathtaking touch-and-go landings on a stretch of the Lucknow-Agra Expressway here, showing that highways can be used as landing strips in an emergency.

Over a dozen IAF planes, including Mirage-2000 fighters and Sukhoi-30s, besides 35,000 kg C-130J Super Hercules aircraft, took part in the exercise near Bangarmau in the district, about 65 km from Lucknow. Garud commandos secured the landing zone as part of the special drill.

The Sukhoi-30s and Mirage-2000s took off after touching down on the expressway, while the C-130J transport aircraft landed on it.

The transport aircraft are meant for humanitarian assistance and relief operations during floods and other natural calamities, PRO, Defence (Central Command), Gargi Malik Sinha said. “The aircraft can bring a large amount of relief material. It can also help evacuate people,” she said.

The exercise will test the readiness of the Air Force in situations like war and natural calamities , she said.

3-hour exercise

The three-hour-long exercise began with IAF’s Special Forces Garud commandos getting off the C-130J transport aircraft with their vehicle and taking “positions” on either side of the expressway to secure “their airstrip” for the fighter aircraft.

The exercise simulated an emergency situation when airbases, the first target of bombs and missiles, would not be available for air operations, necessitating use of highways as landing strips.

First time

This is the first time a transport aircraft, a Super Hercules which can carry 200 commandos, landed on the expressway.

Inducted into the Air Force in 2010, each plane costs nearly ₹900 crore. Mirage-2000 fighters and Sukhoi-30 MKI that form the backbone of the IAF’s fighter fleet have landed on the Yamuna Expressway in the past too, but it was for the first time that a transport aircraft landed on it. A Mirage-2000 had landed on the Yamuna Expressway near Delhi for the first time in 2015.

A similar exercise was conducted in May 2016, when a Mirage-2000 fighter plane touched down on the expressway. Last November, six Sukhoi-30 jets touched down on a 3.3-km stretch of the Lucknow-Agra Expressway.

Published on October 24, 2017
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