- Four Air Force aircraft — Sukhoi and Tejas combat jets and one AN-32 transport aircraft — on Thursday flew at a height of about 5 metres on the 4.1-km emergency landing runway (ELR) on the National Highway 16 at Pichukalagudipadu village in Bapatla district of Andhra Pradesh. However, the aircraft did not land on the highway.
- As part of strengthening the strategic security of the country, the Indian Air Force (IAF) conducted the trial run, which was successful. Initially, the IAF authorities had planned to fly the fighter jets at an altitude of around 100 metres, but while they were conducting the emergency drill, they tested the aircraft at a height of around five metres or less.
- “Two Sukhoi Su-30 fighter aircraft, two indigenously developed light combat aircraft (LCA) Tejas and another transport plane AN-32 flew on the newly developed ELR,” Air Commodore V.M. Reddy of the Southern Air Command said.
- The trial flight began at 11 a.m. and ended by 11.40 a.m. First in the sequence of aircraft, the AN-32 flew over the runway at a height of about 5 metres, followed by a twin Su-30 and a couple of Tejas fighter jets. During their first round of visit, both Su-30 and Tejas came as twins. After passing through the ELR in their first run, they peeled into two, separated themselves and again flew over the target.
- Reddy said the Tejas and the transport plane came from the Sulur Air Force Station, near Coimbatore, while the LCAs flew in from the Thanjavur station. The entire trial run was conducted by the Southern Air Command (SAC) with its headquarters at Thiruvananthapuram. This ELR facility falls under the area of responsibility of the SAC.
- Reddy said the Bapatla ELR was going to be the first-of-its-kind emergency facility in the southern peninsula.
- There were other two in operation — one each in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. The government had planned around 20 ELR facilities across the country, which would come up in course of time, he said. Two more would come up in Tamil Nadu.
- Reacting to a question on a similar facility being developed in Prakasam district, Mr. Reddy said those stretches had curves more than the acceptable limits. He said the aircraft needed at least 3 km length and 30 metres width of runway without a curve.
SOURCE: THE HINDU, THE ECONOMIC TIMES, PIB