Mirage 2000 of IAF lands on a Highway in Uttar Pradesh

An Indian Air Force (IAF) jet practised landing on a highway in Uttar Pradesh today as part of a plan for emergencies when military air fields are not available.

Visuals from the highway between Lucknow and Agra showed scores of bystanders taking mobile phone videos as a jet flashed past them, barely skimming the road before taking off again.

An accident that took place after the test, in which a bureaucrat was injured, was not linked to the highway landing at all, said officers.

Last year, a Mirage 2000 fighter jet test-landed on the Yamuna Expressway near Delhi. The fighter plane flew down from Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh and maneuvered an almost-landing.

Officers say the landings are always simulated and the jets don’t actually touch the road as the wheels would be damaged.

Several highways across India have been identified for IAF landings. Two have been tested so far, including the Lucknow-Agra highway today.

The drills involve much coordination between the IAF and government agencies, a makeshift Air Traffic Control and fire engines, rescue vehicles and bird-watchers on stand-by.

Defence experts say landing fighters on roads is common across the world and comes into play during wartime when airbases are first targets of bombs or missiles. In India, very few roads are available for such landings because of traffic, people and even animals on the highway.