Five IAF helicopters conduct trial landing, take-off on emergency landing strip in J&K

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Srinagar: Five IAF helicopters, including the recently inducted US-manufactured Chinook, landed on a stretch of the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway as part of an Emergency Landing Facility drill, the first such exercise in Jammu and Kashmir, officials said on Tuesday.

With this, Jammu and Kashmir became the first Union territory to operationalise an Emergency Landing Facility (ELF). Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan are the three states where these emergency landing strips are currently operational.

According to the officials, two US-manufactured Chinook, one Russian-made Mi-17 and two Advance Light helicopters (ALH) of the Indian Air Force (IAF) landed on the Wanpoh-Sangam stretch of the national highway linking Kashmir with the rest of the country in the early hours of Tuesday.

The entire drill ended by 2.50 am, during which the helicopters landed at the stretch and carried an exercise of picking up troops lying on the ground, the officials said, adding the exercise was held without any problems, they said.

Work on the 3.5-km emergency landing strip was started in 2020 and completed late last year as part of a programme initiated by the IAF along with the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways for the creation of ELFs at different locations across the country.

Chinook helicopters, which have a top speed of 310 kmph and a travel range of 741 km, are used for heavy lifting and the main cabin can hold over 33 fully-equipped troops. It can also be used for medical evacuation and has space for 24 stretchers.

The Mi-17 helicopters can accommodate up to 35 troops. The ALH is an indigenously developed utility aircraft by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) with a twin-engine. It is used for causality evacuation.

These helicopters have been pressed into relief and rescue operations during natural disasters.

The ELF drill is to showcase the synergy and liaison between civil agencies, such as the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), district administration and state police, and the air force towards the conduct of complex multi-faceted activities.

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