The aircraft touchdown exercise is now taking place on the stretch near Bangarmau in Unnao district, about 65 km from Lucknow. Traffic has been restricted in the area.
The IAF’s Special Forces Garud commandos got off the C-130J transport aircraft with their vehicle, and took positions on either side of the expressway to secure “their airstrip” for the fighter aircraft.
This is the first time a transport aircraft – a Super Hercules, which can carry 200 commandos – is landing on an expressway. These planes were inducted into the air force in 2010.IAF Vice Chief Air Marshal SB Deo said on the sidelines of an event in Delhi ahead of the exercise that the IAF is also landing transport aircraft, the C-130 which is special operations aircraft.
For the next two hours or so, a fighter aircraft will carry out a touch and go manoeuvre on the expressway every few minutes.
Three Jaguar deep penetration strike aircraft will be followed up by six Mirage 2000 aircrafts flying in two formations and then, two more formations of three aircraft each of Sukhoi-30MKI.
The C-130 will return for another short landing to extricate the Garud Commandos.
IAF fighter planes, Mirage-2000 fighters and Sukhoi-30, have twice landed on expressways in Uttar Pradesh. The first was in 2015 when a Mirage-2000 landed on the Yamuna expressway near Delhi.
Last November, six multirole combat aircraft Sukhoi-30 jets touched down on a 3.3 km stretch of the Lucknow – Agra expressway.
About a dozen highways that are wide enough and have a smooth road surface for the fighter jets – across the country have been identified for similar landing operations to be used in case of emergencies including disaster relief and war.