NEW DELHI: Indian Air Force (IAF) has taken a step forward to use highway stretches as "landing strips" in an emergencyfor fighter aircrafts. It has asked National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to share the details of the plans to upgrade the existinghighways or build new ones so that necessary features are incorporated to make certain portions function as "runways" and allow for both landings and take-offs.

Sources said such stretches would be developed in Rajasthan, Gujarat and Punjab on priority basis considering these states share their boundaries with Pakistan. About eight highways have been identified in Rajasthan and Punjab, and it has been suggested that quite a few other stretches can be designed as landing strips.

Following the successful landing of a Mirage-2000 fighter aircraft on the Yamuna Expressway, the IAF in July had written to NHAI citing how the high quality of highways could be used for runways in an emergency, say in case the air force runway is blocked due to any reason. Moreover, such stretches can also be activated for training for such landing and take off in case of exigencies. It has also asked the agencies to share the plans to develop highways in the next 5-10 years.