Lucknow: The Lucknow-Agra Expressway has been closed for commuters as the Indian Air Force plans to conduct a touchdown exercise on Tuesday involving 20 planes, including the AN-32, Mirage 2000 and Sukhoi 30 MKI.
This is for the first time that the transport aircraft AN-32 lands and then takes off from the highway, an official said.. The IAF, which has 53 airfields across the country, has firmed up an ambitious plan for emergency airstrips in important sectors — identifying road locations, minimum infrastructure requirement and portable logistics support.
It had earlier shared the plan for backup runways with the ministry of road transport and highways. As part of its plan to use highways as runways, the IAF landed a Mirage 2000 fighter on the Yamuna Expressway in 2015, days after two combat planes landed on an airstrip in Saifai village in UP’s Etawah.
Countries known to have emergency airstrips on highways include China, Germany, Sweden and Singapore. Although there was initially a proposal to develop a total of 21 NHs into airstrips, for now 12 highways have been cleared, with three of those connecting Odisha, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh — all Maoist-affected areas, which also witness vagaries of nature like floods and cyclones almost every year.