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IAF conducts trial run on emergency landing strip in J&K

Published:

NEW DELHI:

Indian Air Force

(IAF) conducted the first test-run of the 3.5 km long

emergency landing strip

with five helicopters on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway in

Bijbehara

,

Anantnag

around midnight on Tuesday.
Officials reported that five IAF helicopters, including the newly introduced US-manufactured Chinook, conducted a drill on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway.

This marked the first Emergency Landing Facility (ELF) exercise in Jammu and Kashmir and thus, the first Union territory to operationalize such a facility. Currently, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan are the only states with operational emergency landing strips.
According to officials, two US-manufactured Chinooks, one Russian-made Mi-17, and two Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) from the IAF touched down on the Wanpoh-Sangam stretch of the national highway, which connects Kashmir with the rest of the country. The drill, which commenced in the early hours of Tuesday, concluded by 2.50 am. During the exercise, the helicopters successfully landed on the stretch and simulated the retrieval of troops from the ground. The drill proceeded smoothly without encountering any issues, said the officials.
The Chinook helicopter boasts a maximum speed of 310 kmph and a travel range of 741 km. Meanwhile, with its heavy lifting capabilities, its main cabin can accommodate more than 33 fully-equipped troops or 24 stretchers for medical evacuation purposes.

In comparison, the Mi-17 helicopters offer space for up to 35 troops, while the ALH, a utility aircraft developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) with twin engines, specializes in casualty evacuation missions.
The emergency landing facility, construction of which was started in 2020 at a cost of Rs 119 crore, is built to assist during times of war, natural disasters like floods,

NDRF

rescue operations, air dropping of relief supplies, evacuation of stranded individuals, and other emergency situations, according to officials.

The strip is part of a program launched as a joint effort between the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the union ministry of road transport and highways. It is among 13 development projects planned across the country and designed to accommodate fighter jets and other aircraft during times of war or natural disasters necessitating rapid resource mobilization.
Tight security measures were put in place, with security forces stationed along the highway stretch from kilometre 246.200 to kilometre 249.700. Radars, technical equipment, and CCTV cameras were also installed to ensure a smooth trial run. Sniffer dogs were present at the site as part of safety measures.
Health and fire service departments were also present at the site. The trial run conducted during the night hours, involved Sukhoi fighter aircraft and Tejas light combat fighters.
According to officials, the traffic on highway’s Wanpoh-Sangam stretch was also diverted for some time but restored to normal after few hours post the trial.
(With inputs from agencies)

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