Barmer (Rajasthan): IAF on Thursday carried out a landing operation for fighter jets and a C130J transport aircraft with two Union ministers on board on a highway in Barmer close to the border.
Nineteen other such highways are being developed as emergency landing strips for military planes as part of enhancing the country’s security preparedness.
Su-30 MKI and Jaguar fighter jets of the Indian Air Force landed at the strip on National Highway-925A between Barmer and Jalore.
Inaugurating the Emergency Landing Facility, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said India is fully prepared to protect its territory.
Singh, who was accompanied by Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari and Indian Air Force chief R K S Bhadauria, said the landing was smooth and lauded the efforts of IAF and National Highways Authority of India (NHAI).
“We got the opportunity to land on this strip in a C130J. We had a very smooth landing. IAF chief also told us it is a good landing strip. You must have seen cars, carts, scooters on roads, today we are seeing an airplane on the road,” the Defence Minister said.
The Defence Minister described the Emergency Landing Facility near the International Border as a shining example of the government’s commitment to protect the unity and sovereignty of the nation.
“This highway and landing field will further cement the basic infrastructure along the western border and strengthen national security. Such emergency fields will provide more edge to the operational and civil assistance of our forces. It will also play a crucial role in facing natural calamities,” he said.
Defence Ministry, in a statement, said this project will improve connectivity between villages of Barmer and Jalore districts located on the international border.
The stretch located in the western border area will facilitate the vigilance of the Indian Army and strengthen the basic infrastructure of the country. During normal time, the ELF will be used for smooth flow of road traffic.
Singh said emergency landing strips are being made by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) at twenty locations, including the one here.
“They are also making helipads. This is a major step from a security perspective,” he said.
Both Singh and Gadkari called it a “historic day”.
Speaking on the occasion, Gadkari said there were several problems encountered pertaining to existing rules and regulations in executing the “out of the box” project.
NHAI developed the around three km-long section of Satta-Gandhav stretch of the highway for the IAF, which is a part of newly made two-lane paved shoulder of Gagariya-Bakhasar and SattaGandhav Section under ‘Bharatmala Pariyojana’ (UNI)