The Lucknow-Agra Expressway has been closed for passengers because the IAF (Indian Air Force) has planned to organize a touchdown activity with 20 aircraft, including AN-32, Mirage 2000 and Sukhoi 30 MKI. An official of IAF said this is the first time that the transport aircraft AN-32 will land and take off from the highway. The Lucknow-Agra Expressway is preferred for the exercise of aircraft.
As per the statement of Indian Air Force(IAF) officer given in 2016, IAF wants new public roads to be built in such way that can serve as runways for its warplanes in the situation of emergency for providing an alternative for launching operations.
The Indian Air Force after all the research and identification of locations of roads, portable logistics support and the requirement of lower infrastructure has shaped up its ambitious project of constructing emergency airstrips in important sectors in addition to already existing 53 airfields across the country.
Earlier, the Ministry of Road transport and highways was shared with the plan for backup runways which can be used in the time of emergency.
In 2015, the IAF staged a ‘Mirage 2000’ fighter on the Yamuna Expressway to see if the part of their plan to use highways as runways will work or not. In 2015, days after two combat planes landed on an airstrip in Saifai village in UP’s Etawah.
Countries like China, Germany, Sweden, and Singapore have emergency airstrips on highways. According to an official responsible for executing the project, 12 National Highways as emergency landing airstrips have been cleared by IAF. This will enable rescue operation teams to reach affected areas quickly and easily.
Initially, it was only a proposal for the development of a total of 21 NHs into airstrips, but now out of 21, 12 highways have been cleared. Among 12 highways, 3 will connect to Odisha, Jharkhand, and Chhattisgarh. Basically, the Maoist-affected areas. These are the areas which see eccentricity of nature like floods and cyclones.
On the condition of not revealing his name, a senior government official said, “The IAF has given clearance to 12 NHs to be developed into emergency landing airstrips out of the total 21. However, on the remaining NHs, discussions, and testing are on and soon they too are likely to be cleared by the IAF.”