Government unveils landing strip for IAF planes on national highway in Rajasthan
Union ministers Rajnath Singh and Nitin Gadkari inaugurated an emergency landing strip at Satta-Gandhav stretch on National Highway 925 on Thursday for Indian Air Force (IAF) planes.
A Hercules C-130J plane of the IAF, carrying the two ministers and Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat, conducted a mock emergency landing on the national highway on Thursday.
NH-925 is India's first national highway to be used for emergency landing of IAF aircraft.
The two ministers also witnessed multiple aircraft operations on the emergency landing facility (ELF) of NH-295 on Thursday.
Sukhoi-30MKI fighter jet conducted a mock emergency landing at the ELF.
IAF chief R K Bhadauria was also present on the occasion. 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.
In his speech, the defence minister said that a total of 20 emergency landing strips, similar to the one in Barmer, are being developed across the country right now.
"Many helipads are also being created with the help of the Union Roads Ministry. This is an important step to strengthen our security infrastructure," he added.
There was this thinking that if much is spent on defence, then development in the country would be affected, he said.
"But today, seeing an emergency landing strip on a national highway, I can safely say that defence and development can go hand in hand," Singh added.
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.
India's defence minister said, "By creating a strip so near the international border, we have given a message that we will stand up for unity, diversity and sovereignty of our country at whatever the cost."
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.