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.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari & Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria landed during the demonstration on the national highway in Rajasthan's Barmer district aboard the C-130 J Super Hercules aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF).
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.
"The first aircraft to land during the demonstration would be the C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari and Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria inside it," said Indian Air Force.
Sukhoi-30MKI fighter jet also conducted a mock emergency landing at the ELF in front of the two ministers. 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.
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. 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.
The Lucknow-Agra Expressway, which is not a national highway, comes under the Uttar Pradesh government.
Officials told PTI a total of 27 other highways, apart from the one in Barmer, are being currently studied jointly by the IAF and the NHAI to see if emergency landing strips can be developed on them.
The emergency landing strip, which was inaugurated on Thursday, is part of newly developed two-lane paved shoulder of Gagariya-Bakhasar and Satta-Gandhav section having total length of 196.97 km and costing Rs 765.52 crore under the Bharatmala Pariyojana.
This highway project will improve connectivity between villages of Barmer and Jalore districts located on the international border.
Apart from the emergency landing strip, three helipads (size 100x30 metres each) have been constructed in Kundanpura, Singhania and Bakhasar villages under this project, according to the requirements of the IAF and the Indian Army.
The ELF and three helipads have been developed so as to strengthen the security network on the western international border of the country. During normal time, the ELF will be used for smooth flow of road traffic and during the operations of ELF for the IAF, the service road will be used for smooth flow of road traffic.
The ELF was constructed in 19 months. The work commenced in July 2019 and was completed in January 2021 The work was carried out by GHV India Pvt Ltd under the supervision of the IAF and the NHAI.
(With PTI inputs)