Union ministers Rajnath Singh and Nitin Gadkari on Thursday inaugurated an emergency landing strip at Satta-Gandhav stretch on National Highway 925 for Indian Air Force (IAF) planes.
A mock emergency landing was performed by a Hercules C-130J plane of the IAFwhich also carried the two invited ministers alongside Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat. NH-925 is India's maiden national highway ready to be deployed or emergency landing of IAF aircraft.
In presence of the the two ministers, several other aircraft operations were also conducted at the newly inaugurated emergency landing facility (ELF) of NH-295 including the mock emergency landing of a Sukhoi-30MKI fighter jet.
An-32 military transport aircraft and Mi-17v5 helicopter of the IAF also landed at the ELF, showing its complete operational readiness to act as an auxiliary military airbase.
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has developed the 3-km section of Satta-Gandhav stretch of NH-925 as an ELF for the IAF. In October 2017, fighter jets and transport planes of the IAF had conducted mock landings on the Lucknow-Agra Expressway to show that such highways can be used by the IAF planes for landing in case of an emergency.
The Lucknow-Agra Expressway, which is not a national highway, comes under the Uttar Pradesh government.
Officials told PTI a total of 27 other highways, apart from the one in Barmer, are being currently studied jointly by the IAF and the NHAI to see if emergency landing strips can be developed on them.
The emergency landing strip, which was inaugurated on Thursday, is part of newly developed two-lane paved shoulder of Gagariya-Bakhasar and Satta-Gandhav section having total length of 196.97 km and costing Rs 765.52 crore under the Bharatmala Pariyojana.
This highway project will improve connectivity between villages of Barmer and Jalore districts located on the international border.
Apart from the emergency landing strip, three helipads (size 100x30 metres each) have been constructed in Kundanpura, Singhania and Bakhasar villages under this project, according to the requirements of the IAF and the Indian Army.
The ELF and three helipads have been developed so as to strengthen the security network on the western international border of the country.
During normal time, the ELF will be used for smooth flow of road traffic and during the operations of ELF for the IAF, the service road will be used for smooth flow of road traffic.
The ELF was constructed in 19 months. The work commenced in July 2019 and was completed in January 2021
The work was carried out by GHV India Pvt Ltd under the supervision of the IAF and the NHAI.
(With PTI Inputs)