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J&K becomes first UT to operationalise emergency landing facility

IAF Chinook leads historic emergency landing drill in south Kashmir
12:11 AM Apr 03, 2024 IST | SHABIR IBN YUSUF
j k becomes first ut to operationalise emergency landing facility
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Srinagar, Apr 2:  Five Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopters, including the newly acquired US-manufactured Chinook, successfully executed an Emergency Landing Facility (ELF) drill on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway last night.

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This marked the first such exercise in Jammu and Kashmir, making it the first Union Territory to operationalise an ELF.

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Previously, only Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan had operational ELF strips.
The air strip's strategic location and operational readiness make it a key asset for the IAF in J&K.

The successful trial landing is a testament to the IAF's capabilities and its dedication to ensuring security and safety in Kashmir.

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The official said that the trial landing, which involved multiple IAF aircraft, including transport planes and helicopters demonstrated the airstrip’s suitability for emergency landings and its strategic importance in Kashmir.

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The drill, which took place on the Wanpoh-Sangam stretch of the National Highway, involved two Chinook helicopters, one Mi-17, and two Advance Light Helicopters (ALH) of the IAF.

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The helicopters landed on the highway in the early hours of Tuesday and conducted an exercise of picking up troops from the ground. The entire drill concluded by 2:50 am.

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The 3.5-km emergency landing strip was constructed as part of a joint initiative by the IAF and the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.

Work on the strip began in 2020 and was completed late last year.

Chinook helicopters, known for their heavy-lifting capabilities and ability to carry over 33 fully-equipped troops, were a key part of the exercise.

The Mi-17 helicopters, with a capacity of up to 35 troops, and the ALH, developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for casualty evacuation, also participated.

The ELF drill aimed at demonstrating the coordination between civil agencies like the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), district administration, state police, and the air force.

These exercises are crucial for preparing and showcasing the capabilities of the armed forces in responding to emergencies and natural disasters.

“The airstrip is a vital part of the IAF's infrastructure in Kashmir,” a senior IAF official said. “The airstrip is crucial for supporting military operations, especially in the context of the volatile security situation in Jammu and Kashmir.”

“Landing is the IAF's commitment to maintaining a high level of operational readiness in Kashmir,” the official said. “It also underscores the IAF's ability to swiftly deploy assets and respond to any contingencies that may arise.”

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