Lucknow: With the country facing an escalation of tension at the borders with Pakistan, the 3.3 km stretch of the Agra-Lucknow Expressway near Bangarmau in Unnao district, about 65 km from Lucknow and Agra-Noida Yamuna Expressway, just a few kilometres from Delhi, have been kept war ready for an emergency situation under which top-of-the-line fighter jets of Indian Air Force (IAF) can use them as alternative bases for take-off and landing.
The airstrip on Agra-Lucknow Expressway can come handy in meeting any exigency as far as taking off and touching down of fighter jets are concerned. In order to ensure preparedness of the airstrip for fighter jets under in the prevailing conditions, a public response vehicle has been stationed near its permanently. A fairly big contingent of UP police is also positioned near the strip to keep a close eye on suspicious elements if any.
According to Unnao District Magistrate DK Pandey, the airstrip on the expressway could be used by the IAF fighter jets for various purposes depending upon the demand of the situation. The airstrip is quite far from the residential areas of the district. In fact, the India Air Force keeps on exercising on the two airstrips often. The last drill undertaken by IAF was in October 2017 when around 16 IAF planes had performed breathtaking landings and touch-and-go manoeuvres on the airstrip on Lucknow-Agra Expressway.
A 35,000 kg C-130J Super Hercules aircraft with Garud Special Forces commandos had descended on it as part of a spectacular air show then. Fighter jets including top-of-the-line Sukhoi 30s and Mirage 2000s were also a part of the two-hour mock drill during which the aircrafts carried out touch and go manoeuvres on the expressway every few minutes.
It was a simulation of an emergency situation when airbases, the first target of bombs and missiles, won't be available and highways have to be used as landing strips. Currently, Unnao district administration has increased the deployment of security personnel near the two airstrips to keep around the clock vigil in the area. “In case of an instruction from the IAF authorities we are fully prepared to provide them the facility and in that case, we will secure the airstrip for fighter planes by ensuring traffic diversion on the expressway,” said Unnao DM DK Pandey.
About a dozen highways across the country are provided with this facility providing a smooth road surface for the fighter jets to be used in case of emergencies including disaster relief and war. Moreover, the upcoming Purvanchal Expressway joining state capital Lucknow with the eastern UP district of Ghazipur. Kudebhar village under Jaisinghpur tehsil has been identified as the stretch for the ultra-modern four km long airstrip on the Purvanchal Expressway.