IAF jet lands on Yamuna Expressway in first road runway trial

The Indian Air Force (IAF) successfully test-landed a Mirage-2000 fighter jet on the Yamuna Expressway, near Mathura, on Thursday as part of a plan to use select stretches of national highways and civil airstrips for emergency landing.

The multi-role combat jet landed close to the 118 milestone of the Yamuna Expressway at about 6:40 am.

Senior IAF officers said the force has plans to activate more such stretches on highways in the future.

Several countries, including Pakistan and China are effectively using highway stretches as landing strips for fighter aircraft and the IAF too has been considering the use of national highways for emergency landing by fighter aircraft, they added.

"The aircraft made a practice approach on the highway, coming down to a height of 100 metres before landing off the next approach. The operations were conducted with active support from the government of Uttar Pradesh, Yamuna Expressway Authority, toll authorities of JP Infratech and the civil police," the IAF said in a statement.

The road landing by the IAF comes close on the heels of Saturday's test landing by two Mirage-2000 aircraft on an airstrip in Saifai village in Etawah.

The exercise was conducted in coordination with the state government, district authorities and superintendents of police of Agra and Mathura with necessary tie-up with highway authorities for activation of the selected stretch, the statement said.

The air force had deployed its portable truck-borne instrumentations as well as nearly 100 technical ground personnel to guide and assist the landing.

It had also deployed firefighters and ambulances to deal with any emergency.

The Uttar Pradesh government is reported to have, on 11 May, given the green signal to convert a 3km stretch of the upcoming Agra-Lucknow Expressway into a full-fledged road runway for the Air Force.

The particular road runway segment of the Agra-Lucknow expressway will not have electricity poles, masts or mobile phone towers.

There will be portable ground lighting systems that can be quickly placed on the roadsides to guide aircraft during landings.

The 308km Agra-Lucknow expressway will pass through Firozabad, Shikohabad, Mainpuri, Etawah, Kannauj and Mohanlalganj.

The Mirage-2000, a single-engine fourth-generation jet fighter manufactured by France's Dassault Aviation, that landed on the expressway reportedly took off from the Gwalior squadron of the IAF as did the two others that landed in Saifai.