**New Delhi: ** Landing of fighter aircraft on the Lucknow-Agra Expressway is an “important operational achievement”, Vice Chief of Indian Air Force Air Marshal S.B. Deo said.
“It’s a very important operational achievement, we have done it earlier where we have the Mirages land on this highway, and highways can be very important during wartime when the runway is denied for some reason,” Deo said on the sidelines of an event here.
“I am very happy that the government has taken this very serious step, every new highway that has been made has provision, wherever straight leg permits, it will be made capable of handling fighter aircraft,” he said.
The IAF Vice Chief said that the unique feature of Tuesday’s exercise will be landing of transport aircraft C-130.
“What is unique about what is being done is that we are also landing transport aircraft, the C-130 which is special operations aircraft,” he said.
A C-130 transport aircraft with Special Forces commandos, and frontline fighters from IAF’s inventory will be a part of an exercise to use highways as landing strips, which will be held on Tuesday morning on a patch of the Lucknow-Agra Expressway around 65 km from Lucknow.
According to the Defence Ministry, the exercise will commence with a short landing by the C-130, which will drop Garud Commandos and their vehicle.
Immediately on disembarking from the C-130, the Commandos will take up position on either side of the airstrip to cordon it off for the fighter operations.
This will be followed by three Jaguar Deep penetration strike aircraft, two formations of three aircraft each of Mirages and two formations of three aircraft each of Sukhoi-30.
All 15 fighter aircraft will carry out a touch and go manoeuvre on the expressway. The C-130 will then return for another short landing to extricate the Garud Commandos.
On May 21, 2016, a Mirage-2000 fighter plane of the IAF had touched down on the Yamuna Expressway as a display of capability to land fighter jets on highways.
A number of highways have been cleared by the government for being used as airstrip for emergencies such as disaster relief, humanitarian assistance, as well as in situations of war or conflict.