Today, the Lucknow-Agra Expressway was shut to commuters as the Indian Air Force will be conducting touchdown operations with 20 planes. AN-32, Mirage 2000 and Sukhoi 30 MKI landed and took off from the highway as the Indian Air Force wishes to use these runways for landing war planes in the event of its key airfields being bombed by the enemy. This is for the first time that Transport Aircraft AN-32 will be landing and taking off from a highway.
With IAF geared for massive exercise on Lucknow-Agra Expressway, the collaboration sees the involvement of the Uttar Pradesh Government. The overall airplane count was as follows: C130 with IAF Garud commnados for assault landing, three Jaguars, Six Mirage 2000s (in two batches of three each), Six SU 30MKIs (in two batches of three each) in a touch down and take off operation. The C130 also touched down.
There are 53 designated airfields for the IAF across India and emergency airstrips are being identified with basic infrastructure and logistic support which has been cleared with Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. This landing strip is 65 kms from Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh, and in preparation of this mega show, the entire area is cordoned off and vehicles had been barred from plying till 2 pm today. The drill fascinated onlookers who were allocated an area on the side of the highway to observe the landings.
The IAF has cleared 12 National Highways for emergency landing to allow operation teams reach affected areas quickly. The initial proposal was to develop 21 NH into airstrips but so far only 12 have been cleared of which 3 will connect Odisha, Jharkhand and Chattisgarh. Testing on the remaining highways to be used as airstrips are under discussion and likely to be cleared soon.