China turns expressway into military airstrip: reports

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena (L) and Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe gesture as Sri Lankan Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake (unseen) presents a supplementary budget to parliament, marking the first economic policy statement of the new government which came to power earlier in the month in Colombo on January 29, 2015. Sri Lanka's new government announced hefty taxes on top companies in a bid to raise revenue, accusing the previous regime of fudging the figures and leaving the economy in a "sad state". AFP PHOTO / Ishara S. KODIKARA (Photo credit should read Ishara S.KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images)

BEIJING, May 26, 2014 (AFP) – China has flown warplanes on to and from a civilian road for the first time, state media said Monday, a technique which could be used for “emergency landings during wartime”. An image of a fighter jet taking off from a motorway in the central province of Henan — with a petrol station in the background — appeared in the state-run Global Times newspaper.

China’s airforce “test-flew warplanes using highways for take-offs and landings” to enhance “the air force’s capabilities of emergency landing and coordination between military and civilian forces”, the report said.

Following the manoeuvre on Sunday, news agency Xinhua said that the road can be used by cargo planes and as an “alternative airport” for civilian aircraft.

It indirectly quoted a senior military officer as saying it “can also be used in exercises and training for military air planes as well as emergency landings during wartime”.

China — the world’s second largest military spender — in March announced the latest of many double-digit rises in its official defence budget.

Beijing is embroiled in a series of territorial disputes with its neighbours and deploys troops to its restive regions o