NOIDA: A Mirage 2000 fighter jet of the Indian Air Force (IAF) test-landed this morning on the Yamuna Expressway just outside Delhi, as part of emergency landing drills on national highways.
At 6.40 am, the fighter plane skimmed the highway and landed briefly before it took off again. Local people, including villagers, gaped at the sight.
"The aircraft made a practice approach on the highway, coming down to a height of 100 metres before landing off the next approach," said an IAF statement.
Before the landing, an IAF helicopter took several rounds in the air. Several Air Force personnel were at the spot.
Officials called it a practice drill to scope out possible landing strips on the national highway for fighter planes in case of an emergency. "IAF has plans to activate more such stretches on highways in the future," said a spokesperson.
The six-lane Yamuna Expressway on the outskirts of the capital connects to Agra in Uttar Pradesh. The jet landing stalled traffic on the highway for a few hours.
For today's trial, "all facilities like make shift Air Traffic Control, safety services, rescue vehicles, bird clearance parties and other requirements were set up by IAF personnel from Air Force Station Agra," the IAF said.
The air force also coordinated with the Uttar Pradesh government and district officials in Agra and Mathura.
Defence experts say landing fighters on roads is common across the world, a standard drill that comes into play during wartime when airbases are the first things that get bombed or hit by missiles. In India, very few roads are available for such landings because of traffic, pedestrians and animals.