Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi landed on a highway airstrip in an Indian Air Force’s C-130J Super Hercules plane on Tuesday to inaugurate the 341-kilometre-long Purvanchal Expressway in northern Uttar Pradesh state.
The inauguration comes months ahead of the high-stakes assembly elections that is scheduled to take place in India’s most populous Uttar Pradesh state in 2022.
The 3.2 kilometre-long airstrip has been constructed on the expressway to facilitate the emergency landing of fighter aircraft.
The 341-km expressway aims to reduce travel time state capital Lucknow with Ghazipur from 6 hours to 3.5 hours. It has been constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 22,500 crore.
From the airstrip venue, the prime minister will witness an air show by different aircraft.
The over 340-km-long expressway will have seven major bridges, seven railway overbridges, 114 minor bridges, and 271 underpasses.
An official statement said that the six-lane expressway can be expanded to eight lanes in future.
The inauguration event will also see Su-30 MKIs, Jaguars and Mirage 2000 fighter jets making multiple take-offs and landings at the emergency airstrip.
Awanish K Awasthi, Additional Chief Secretary in the UP govt’s home department, told news agency ANI that the foundation laying of the Purvanchal Expressway was done in July 2018 and within 36 months the work had been completed despite COVID-19 outbreak, and without time or cost overrun.
About C-130J Super Hercules
C-130J, also known as the Super Hercules, is a military aircraft that is meant for special operations and has the capability to land at short and rough airstrips.
The C-130J Super Hercules is the most advanced C-130 ever designed, built, flown and maintained, with a truly integrated digital core that offers: -Dual HUDs for increased situational awareness, Block 7.0/8.1 software, installed in-line during production, Automated maintenance fault reporting, Integrated defensive suite, 250 knot ramp/door.
C-130J Super Hercules aircraft is designed and manufactured by American defence company Lockheed Martin. It has a landing distance of 914 metres and a range of 4,000 kilometres.
The C-130J aircraft conducted its first flight in 1996 and completed a million flight hours worldwide by 2013.
As of September 2021, the C-130J Super Hercules aircraft has clocked in over 2 million flight hours.
Indian Air Force (IAF) currently operates 12 C-130J Super Hercules aircraft, the first of which was ordered in 2007. They carried out the highest landing of a C-130J in 2013, which is 34.37-metre-long with a wingspan of 40.41 metres.
The 2013 highest landing by the Indian Air Force took place at the Daulat Beg Oldi airstrip in Ladakh at the height of 16,614 ft.