The Indian Air Force (IAF) is gearing up for the touch-down of eight combat jets on the Agra-Lucknow expressway when it's inaugurated on November 21.
The 302 km-long expressway, which has been a dream project of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, has been completed in a record time of 22 months, and cost Rs 13,200 crore. The expressway will be operational by December.
"All arrangements have been made to conduct the grand inauguration. A squadron of eight fighter jets will land and take off from newly constructed expressway," Navneet Sehgal, CEO, UP Expressway Industrial Development Authority (UPEIDA), told the Times of India.
This could be the biggest such landing exercise on an expressway for Indian military aviation. In May 2015, IAF had successfully landed Dassault Mirage-2000 fighter jet on the Yamuna expressway that connects Greater Noida with Agra.
A stretch in Bangarmau of Unnao district was inspected by Sehgal and Air Vice Marshal Rajesh Issar, senior officer, administration, of Central Air Command.
The expressway has a dedicated 2 km stretch that is built for war-like emergencies. It was also noted that there was no disturbance to the eco-system on the stretch, a UPEIDA source told the newspaper.
The IAF needs to ensure that all the safety mechanisms are in place, including a bird-free zone, availability of emergency rescue vehicles and temporary air traffic control, before such an exercise is undertaken.
Currently, Germany, Poland, Sweden, South Korea, Taiwan, Finland, Switzerland, Poland, Singapore, Czech Republic and Pakistan have facilities that enable the landing and take-off of aircraft on dedicated stretches on their expressways.