20 IAF aircraft to land on Expressway
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The Lucknow-Agra Expressway will play host to the Indian Air Force (IAF) on October 24 as 20 frontline planes are expected to perform touchdown drills on a designated strip of the 302 km road, the longest six-lane highway in the country.
While this is the second such exercise by the IAF on the expressway in eleven months, “What is different this time is that fighters as well as transport planes will perform a touchdown,” said Gargi Malik, spokesperson for the IAF’s Central Air Command (CAC).
Sixteen fighter planes and four transport planes will be part of the drill. The contingent of fighter planes will include the Sukhoi 30 MKI, Mirage and Jaguar planes. The much-larger transport planes, An32 and C130 Hercules, will make their first landing on the road.
The transport planes are deployed for HADR (Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief) operations. They supply relief material in calamities such as floods and earthquakes, while also being used for evacuation.
The CAC said the drill was part of its “regular exercise started in 2015”.
“It is an operational exercise of the Air Force,” said Ms. Malik.
The flying exercise will take place on a 3-km airstrip on the Expressway in Bangermau in Unnao district, located between Lucknow and Kanpur.
The dedicated stretch has been designed for emergency take-offs and landings of IAF planes. Vehicular traffic has been restricted on the Expressway between the Araul interchange in Kanpur and Lucknow starting Friday. Motorists have been diverted, the Uttar Pradesh government said.
The Expressway was formally opened last November by the Samajwadi Party (SP) government, with spectacular ‘touch-and-go’ and low-pass manoeuvres of take-offs and landings by six IAF fighter planes.