IAF carries out emergency landing exercise in Andhra Pradesh

The Indian Air Force (IAF) carried out successful operations on an Emergency Landing Facility (ELF) airstrip on the National Highway 16 near Andhra Pradesh’s Addanki in Bapatla district this week where Su-30 and Hawk fighters carried out overshoots during the activation.

The An-32 and Dornier transport aircraft also landed and subsequently took off from the strip.

ELF highway airstrips enhance the flexibility of air operations during contingencies and are invaluable assets during Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations in far-flung areas.

While other airstrips are already operational in various parts of the country, this ELF in Andhra Pradesh is the first to have been operationalised in Peninsular India.

The 4.1 km-long and 33-metre-wide concrete airstrip has been constructed by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) according to the specifications provided by the IAF.

Such activation was last conducted on 29 December 2022.

Explaining the significance of ELFs, sources in the defence and security establishment told ThePrint that operations from locations other than runways can provide planning flexibility.

“The ELFs come in handy during emergency landings, which can be done by aircraft unable to return to the main base due to in-flight failures,” a source said.

Further, ELFs help in carrying out speedy HADR operations, the source said, adding that this is done by undertaking rapid aerial deployment of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and State Disaster Relief Response Force (SDRF).

The Air Force in a statement Tuesday said that the activation showcased the “high-level of synergy and liaison between civil agencies, such as National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), district administration, state police and the IAF towards the conduct of complex multifaceted activities.”

Apart from the Andhra Pradesh ELF, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan are the two states where ELFs are currently operational.

The Air Force is also making concerted efforts with the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways for the creation of more such ELFs at different locations across the country.

It has identified 28 locations across the country where ELFs are planned for construction, including five in Assam, four in West Bengal, three each in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, and Rajasthan, two each in Bihar, Haryana, Jammu & Kashmir, and Tamil Nadu, and one each in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.

In September 2021, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari jointly inaugurated ELF at the Satta-Gandhav stretch on NH-925A near Barmer, Rajasthan.

The two ministers travelled to Barmer on C-130J aircraft to inaugurate the facility, the construction of which was completed in just 19 months.

In 2017, the Air Force attempted landing on the Agra-Lucknow Expressway during an exercise.

The operations, conducted approximately 60 km west of Lucknow near Bangarmau, Unnao District, involved a 3 km stretch prepared for such landings, according to the press statement released at the time. 

A total of 16 aircraft participated in the operation comprising IAF’s frontline fighters — the Sukhoi-30, Mirage-2000 and Jaguar fighter aircraft. These aircraft took off from Bareilly, Gwalior and Gorakhpur, respectively.

Source: https://theprint.in/defence/iaf-activates-emergency-landing-facility-in-andhra-pradesh-first-in-peninsular-india/2006724/