A C-130J transport aircraft with special forces commandos and frontline fighters from the Indian Air Force’s inventory will be part of an exercise to use highways as landing strips next week.
On October 24, a patch of Lucknow-Agra Expressway will double up as a landing strip, a part of government’s plan to identify and develop a number of highways for use as runways during emergencies.
The exercise will be carried out on the stretch of the expressway near Bangarmau in Unnao district, around 65 km from Uttar Pradesh’s capital Lucknow.
During the exercise, second of its kind and first at this scale, around 16 aircraft will land or touchdown.
The exercise will start with a C-130 Hercules transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force or IAF making an assault landing with Garud commandos. These commandos will also be extricated from the same spot as the final act of the exercise when the C-130 will make a landing for the second time.
The fighter jet that will land on the highway will include three Jaguar fighters, six Mirage 2000 fighters — in two groups of three each, and six Su-30 fighter jets, again in two groups of three each.
The event is being organised by the IAF, together with the state government.
On May 21, 2016, a Mirage 2000 fighter plane of the IAF had touched down on the Yamuna Expressway as a display of capability to land fighter jets on highways.
According to officials of the Road and Transport Ministry, 12 highways have been cleared for similar landing operations, with three of those connecting Maoist-affected areas in Odisha, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, which also witness vagaries of nature like floods and cyclones almost every year.
These strips would be used in case of emergencies such as disaster relief, humanitarian assistance, as well as in situations of war or conflict.