Bapatla (AP), Dec 29 (PTI): The IAF on Thursday successfully conducted a trial run of the 4.1 km emergency landing facility (ELF) constructed on a national highway here, with two Sukhoi fighter aircraft among others participating in the drill.
The flights flew close to the ground without landing on the highway.
The landing facility has been constructed at Picchikalagudipadu village on National Highway 16.
“IAF fighter and transport aircraft carried out practice flying including circuit, approach and overshoot on newly constructed Emergency Landing Facility on NH-16 at Bapatla District in Andhra Pradesh on 29 Dec 22,” the Southern Air Command of IAF tweeted.
An IAF official said a transport plane AN-32, two Sukhoi fighter aircraft and as many Tejas light combat fighters participated in the trial.
A Defence press release said that to check the feasibility of operations from the ELF, IAF fighter and transport aircraft from the Southern Air Command successfully carried out overshoots on the strip today as part of the trials.
“Presently the ELF is not fully ready for facilitating landing. The trials by IAF on 29 Dec 22 were towards ascertaining the feasibility of landing. It would be inaugurated once it is fully ready,” it said.
The highway stretches will be blocked in case of an emergency and put to use exclusively for landing of aircraft. The airstrips can be used for strategic purposes as well as during natural calamities for rescue and relief operations, it added.
Air Force Station Suryalanka being the nearest IAF air base from the ELF, would facilitate activation of the airstrip in coordination with the district administration and state police as per requirement, it said.
According to an IAF official, there was work still pending regarding the runway, including fencing of the road on both sides to prevent entry of people and animals.
He further said IAF coordinated with officials of National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) on painting on the runway and consistency of the surface.
Bapatla Superintendent of Police Vakul Jindal told PTI that a strong security cordon had been established with around 200 police personnel for the trial run.
He said from 10:30 AM to noon, vehicles coming on the national highway were diverted.