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IAF plans major touchdown exercise involving 20 aircraft on highway

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Mirage fighter of IAF. A file photo

LUCKNOW (PTI): The Lucknow-Agra Expressway will be closed for commuters from 10 AM Monday till 2 PM on October 24 as the Indian Air Force (IAF) plans to conduct a major touchdown exercise involving 20 aircraft, including the AN-32, Mirage 2000 and Sukhoi 30 MKI, on the highway.

This is for the "first time" that transport aircraft (AN-32) will "land and then take off" from this highway, an official said.

According to PRO, Defence (Central Command), Gargi Malik Sinha, the IAF will conduct the aircraft touchdown exercise on the Agra Expressway near Bangarmau in Unnao district.

"It is for the first time that any transport aircraft will land and then take off (on the highway). The AN-32 are meant for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. The aircraft can bring a large amount of relief material and can also help in evacuating people," Sinha said.

In all, 20 aircraft including AN-32 transport and fighter planes like Mirage 2000, Jaguar, Sukhoi 30 MKI will take part in the exercise, she said.

"Two AN-32 planes will participate in the October 24 Expressway touchdown," the PRO said.

To ensure a smooth conduct of the touchdown by IAF aircraft, traffic restrictions will be placed on the Agra-Lucknow Expressway for general public from October 23 to October 24.

In a letter sent to district magistrate Unnao, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Uttar Pradesh Expressways Industrial Development Authority (UPEIDA) Awanish Awasthi said that Indian Air Force was planning to conduct highways flying operations on October 24 on the airstrip of Agra-Lucknow Expressway in Unnao district.

The letter further said, "It is to bring to your notice that due to Diwali vacation, a lot of traffic is moving on the expressway. Hence, keeping in view the convenience of the expressway users, it is proposed to stop the use of expressway for general public from 10 AM on October 23 to 2 PM on October 24".

The CEO asked the Unnao district magistrate to ensure that sufficient police force is deployed to control the public and movement of authorised vehicles on expressway and also take measures to ensure safe flying operations on the scheduled day from 8 AM till 1 PM.

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