In a historical event, eight Indian Air Force (IAF) fighter jets touched down on Agra-Lucknow Expressway in Uttar Pradesh, India’s longest expressway, as it opens to public on Monday.
Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav was present when his father and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav opened the Agra-Lucknow Expressway at Unnao, around 50 km from Lucknow.
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Sukhoi and Mirage 2000s jets performed simulated landings, a first for any road launch. The first jet, a Sukhoi, could not land on its first attempt because of a dog that had strayed onto its path. The aircraft was forced to overshoot its touch-down spot. It was successful in its second attempt at the end of the show.
The 305 km expressway was completed in a record 23 months. It is tipped to reduce travel time between Delhi and the Uttar Pradesh capital from nine hours to around five.
On Friday, a fighter jet practised on a 3.3 km stretch of the highway marked for landings as part of a Defence Ministry plan for emergencies when military air fields are not available. A bureaucrat who was returning to Lucknow after watching the test landing was injured in a car crash on the brand new highway.
Earlier that day, the Chief Minister, who had recently taken a ride with his family on the expressway, had warned: “I request you to drive on the expressway with caution and not exceed a speed limit of 100 km an hour.”
The state government hired an eight-camera set-up to shoot the event.