Luc­know-Agra e-way as IAF run­way

Vayu Aerospace and Defence - - Aviation Defence & In India -

On 24 Oc­to­ber 2017, the In­dian Air Force car­ried out a high­way land­ing ex­er­cise in Ut­tar Pradesh, val­i­dat­ing a sec­ond stretch of road­way for po­ten­tial use in wartime emer­gen­cies (the first was on the Ya­muna Ex­press­way be­tween Delhi and Agra). A spe­cially cho­sen stretch of high­way be­tween Agra and Luc­know, both home to IAF bases and within close range of a num­ber of other Cen­tral Air Com­mand sta­tions, had the tar­mac sur­face re­placed with con­crete, and run­way mark­ings (24/06) painted at ei­ther end of a 3-kilo­me­tre, 33-me­tre-wide strip.

The pro­ceed­ings be­gan with a C-130J in­sert­ing a team of IAF ‘Garud’ spe­cial forces who ‘se­cured’ the strip be­fore the fighters ar­rived. Fast jets in­cluded a trio of newly-up­graded Mi­rage 2000TIs from No.1 Squadron ‘Tigers’ and a pair of Mi­rage 2000Hs with a twin-seat Mi­rage 2000TH from No.7 Squadron ‘ Bat­tleaxes’, both based out of Gwalior ( Ma­hara­jpur); two Su-30MKIs from No.8 Squadron ‘Eight Pur­soot’ and three from No.24 ‘Hawks’ out of Bareilly, and fi­nally three DARIN I Jaguars from No.27 Squadron ‘Flam­ing Ar­rows’ based in Go­rakh­pur. Given the lim­ited in­fras­truc­ture in place, the fighters did not ac­tu­ally land but the C-130J did. Each of the fast jets car­ried out a low missed ap­proach on its first pass, be­fore car­ry­ing out a touch-and-go on the sec­ond pass, which was con­sid­ered enough to val­i­date the high­way airstrip for clear-weather VFR op­er­a­tions.

The ex­er­cise con­cluded with the C-130J ar­riv­ing once again, this time to em­bark the Garud com­man­dos and carry out a short take-off. The en­tire op­er­a­tion was planned and ex­e­cuted by Air Force Sta­tion Bak­shi Ka Talab, a few kilo­me­tres north of the city of Luc­know, with Sta­tion Com­man­der Gp Capt J Suares re­spon­si­ble for over­all con­trol and co-or­di­na­tion.

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