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IAF gets new Emergency Landing Field 40 Km from Pakistan border on Barmer Highway (WATCH)

Indian Air Force fighter and transport aircraft on Thursday made perfect 'touchdown' landings on a 3 km stretch of the Barmer National Highway in Rajasthan in the presence of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Highway Minister Nitin Gadkari. 

IAF gets new Emergency Landing Field 40 Km from Pakistan border on Barmer Highway
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Barmer, First Published Sep 9, 2021, 11:48 AM IST
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Indian Air Force fighter and transport aircraft on Thursday made perfect 'touchdown' landings on a 3 km stretch of the Barmer National Highway in Rajasthan in the presence of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Highway Minister Nitin Gadkari. 

The airstrips on the National Highway can be used for landing aircraft in the case of emergency war-like situations, HADR exercises among others. 

This highway has significance as it is situated just 40 km away from the Pakistan border. In a war-like saturation, the adversary always tries to damage the airbase so that no jet can participate in the operation. 

The concept of developing an airstrip on the National Highways emerged to counter such threats. 

Among the fighters, the Sukhoi-30 MKI and Jaguar fighter jets made touch-and-go landings on the highway. 

Earlier, the C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft landed on the highway. The Union Ministers and other officials were on board the transport aircraft.

It is pertinent to mention here, it is for the first time such a military drill has taken place on any National Highway. Prior to this, the IAF had conducted a 'touchdown' exercise thrice in Uttar Pradesh in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Over 20 transport and fighter aircraft had landed on Agra-Lucknow Expressway in 2017. 

IAF gets new Emergency Landing Field 40 Km from Pakistan border on Barmer Highway

So far, 12 National Highways have been identified by the IAF to be developed. Initially, 21 National Highways were identified, but the IAF has given clearance to 12 strips. The proposed strips will be on stretches of roads near the international border in Jammu & Kashmir, Rajasthan, Punjab, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Manipur and West Bengal. Among the 12 highways, three of them connecting Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Odisha -- all Maoist-infested areas. Emergency strips are also planned in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.

Countries like Switzerland, Sweden, Germany, South Korea, Poland, Finland, Taiwan, Czechoslovakia and Singapore also have facilities like this. Even Pakistan has dedicated airstrips on its highways for aircraft landing in emergencies or during the war.

Barmer's Emergency Landing Field

The newly-developed Emergency Landing Field is situated on the Satta-Gandhav stretch of NH-925A from Km 41 to Km 44 and is part of the newly-developed Gandhav-Bhakasar Section, South of Barmer in Rajasthan.

It has a total length of 196.97 Km and was constructed at the cost of Rs 765.52 crore under Bharatmala Pariyojana. 

"This project will improve connectivity between villages of Barmer & Jalore districts located on the international border. The stretch is located in the western border area will facilitate the vigilance of the Indian Army as well," the ministry said.

Besides the airstrip, three helipads of 100 x 30 metres size each have also been constructed in Kundanpura, Singhania and Bakhasar villages.

These have been constructed according to the requirements of the Air Force and Indian Army.

Commenced in July 2019, the construction of the Emergency Landing Field was completed within 19 months.

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