On September 9, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated India’s 1st emergency landing strip on National Highway. Mr. Singh was also joined by Road and Transportation Minister Nitin Gadkari in the inauguration. Both the Defence Minister and Road & Transporation Minister were aboard the IAF C-130 Super Hercules aircraft which landed on the strip. Further, other aircrafts of the IAF also landed on the strip, demonstrating the scale of the project.
In the financial year 2021-22, a whopping budget which amounts to Rs. 4,78,196 crores has been allocated towards defence expenditure. The amount is about 13.75% of the total government expenditure. Although the number may seem too exorbitant, one must remember that due to emerging threats, the defence sector needs be taken a heed to.
From alarms emerging from China and Pakistan, to geopolitical threats such as the ongoing Afghanistan Crisis, the defence forces are called during such crisis.
Further, the defence forces are also deployed during natural calamites as they work along side National Disaster Relief Force to stabilize critical situations.
In such ever-evolving situations, the defence sector of a nation must also consistently display its growth.
Facts of the Matter
On September 9, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh gave an instance of the ever evolving growth of the country’s defence sector. He, along side Mr. Nitin Gadkari, inagurated an emergency landing strip. While emergency landing strips are common, what makes the project special is that the landing strip is made on a National Highway.
Raksha Mantri Shri @rajnathsingh & @MORTHIndia Shri @nitin_gadkari travelled to Barmer on C-130J to inaugurate the Emergency Landing Facility on Satta-Gandhav stretch of NH-925A. pic.twitter.com/d3fJH7fwAq
— रक्षा मंत्री कार्यालय/ RMO India (@DefenceMinIndia) September 9, 2021
The two ministers were brought to the ground in IAF’s roaring C-130 Super Herculese aircraft in Jalore, just 50 kms away from Pakistan border. The National Highway which boosts the emergency strip connects the Barmer and Jalore districts in Rajasthan. The highway’s total length is about 196.97km and has been constructed at a cost of Rs. 765.52 crores.
What Do We Know About the Highway?
The highways being constructed with the guise of landing strips come under the ongoing Bharat Mala project. According to the reports, the National Highway Authority of India has also constructed as many as 3 helipads.
While one may not see the reasoning behind building an emergency runaway for the military, it serves a very definite purpose. Such bases will decrease the reliability over the main Air Force bases during both calamity and wars. It also gives more flexibility to the forces in terms of how they want to transport food or troop.
Everything You Should Know About The Emergency Strip
Meanwhile, the emergency strip, which is spread along 3 kilometers, has a width of about 33m. According to Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, the strip will be used in war times and during times of natural calamities. Further he claimed that the 3-km long strip was made during the COVID-19 period and was yet completed within 19 months. It’s construction cost is being reported to be around Rs. 43 crores.
The Demonstration that Followed Inauguration
During demonstration, multiple aircrafts of the Indian Airforce landed on the runaway, displaying the sheer scale of the project. This included a Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter plane, the Antonov An-32 Aircraft, and the Mi-17v5 helicopter.
“We Have Sent A Message..”: Defence Minister’s Statement
Speaking at the inauguration event, Rajnath Singh was quoted by media saying, “By creating an emergency landing strip so close to the border, we have sent across a message that India will protect its integrity and sovereignty at all costs”.
The Defence Minister also reiterated the fact that the landing runaway will be used not only during the times of war, but also when natural calamities strike. He added that natural calamity is as catastrophic than war.