In a spectacular display, as many as 17 planes of the Indian Air Force (IAF) took part in the aircraft touchdown exercise on the Lucknow-Agra Expressway near Bangarmau in Unnao district, 55 kms from Lucknow, on Tuesday.
The drill, which is being conducted by the IAF in collaboration with the Uttar Pradesh Government, is witnessing participation from a C130 with Garud commandos for assault landing as well as three Jaguars, six Mirages (in two batches of three each), six SU 30s (in two batches of three each) in touch down and take off operation.
"This is an important exercise for war as well as peacetime in case of emergencies like providing humanitarian assistance, evacuation or distribution of relief material", PRO, Defence (Central Command), Gargi Malik Sinha said. Authorities also imposed traffic restrictions on the expressway for the general public on Monday and Tuesday to ensure smooth conduct of the exercise.
The commando drill will be followed by three Jaguar deep penetration strike aircrafts, two formations of three aircraft each of Mirages and two formations of three aircraft each of Sukhoi-30.
This is not for the first time the IAF is carrying out such kind of drill. Immediately on disembarking from the C-130, the Commandos took up position on either side of the "airstrip" and cordoned it off for the fighter operations. The remaining 32 fighters are likely to be inducted over the next three years. Even in times of war, it is not something that can just happen.
"It takes months of planning to pull off an exercise like this". Last November, six Sukhoi-30 jets touched down on a 3.3- km stretch of the Lucknow-Agra Expressway. After their clearance, three Mirage 2000 fighter aircraft will land and go, followed by three SU-30 fighter aircraft. "It can also help evacuate people", Sinha said.