War is a situation that not most of the governments or defense authorities want to occur, although it is something that needs to be prepared for. And in a similar preparatory drill the air arm of the Indian Armed Forces – the Indian Air Force conducted a trial run of the 4.1 km emergency landing facility (ELF) constructed on a national highway. A cargo plane along with a number of fighter jets simulated the emergency situation landing on the national highway.
This 4.1 km emergency landing facility (ELF) has been constructed at Picchikalagudipadu village on National Highway 16 in Andhra Pradesh. According to an IAF spokesman, the testing involved an AN-32 cargo plane, two Sukhoi fighter aircraft, and many Tejas light combat fighters. During these trial runs the mentioned planes did not actually perform landings on the public tarmac, rather they simulated the situation of emergency landing the shot above the highway.
The Southern Air Command of the Indian Air Force headquartered in Thiruvananthapuram, recently shared a tweet on Twitter, “IAF fighter and transport aircraft carried out practice flying including circuit, approach and overshoot on newly constructed Emergency Landing Facility on NH-16 at Bapatla District in Andhra Pradesh on 29 Dec 22.”
The Department of Defense in its official statement said, IAF fighter and transport aircraft from the Southern Air Command successfully completed overshoots on the strip as part of the trials to determine the viability of operations from the ELF. And the reason the planes did not land on the ELF was explained as “Presently the ELF is not fully ready for facilitating landing. The trials by IAF on 29 Dec 22 were towards ascertaining the feasibility of landing. It would be inaugurated once it is fully ready,”
According to IAF the ELF that has been constructed can be used for strategic purposes as well as during natural calamities for rescue and relief operations. Currently there was work still pending regarding the runway, including fencing of the road on both sides to prevent entry of people and animals. During this recent trial run that was conducted at the NH-16 the Air Force Station Suryalanka being the nearest IAF air base from the ELF, facilitated activation of the airstrip in coordination with the district administration and state police.
For those wondering, this is not the first time that the Indian Air Force has simulated such runs. Previously Union ministers Rajnath Singh and Nitin Gadkari have also inaugurated an emergency landing strip at Satta-Gandhav stretch on National Highway 925 in Barmer for Indian Air Force (IAF) planes. At the time, 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.
Additionally, even before the construction of first ELF, 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.