During the Cold War, several NATO countries trained to be able to operate from civilian roads in the event of a Soviet attack.
These training sessions were carried out with both conventional take-off aircraft and STOVL Harrier aircraft, capable of taking off on short runways and landing vertically. The German motorway network still maintains 11 sections as auxiliary military tracks, and among the allied countries that contemplate these uses for civil roads is also Poland, one of the members of NATO which has borders with Russia, specifically with the enclave of Kaliningrad.
Precisely, this week in the Polish region of Masuria, bordering that Russian enclave, the Route 604 exercise was organized this week, from September 25 to 29, on provincial highway 604, closing a 3 kilometer stretch between the towns of Ruskowo and Przeździał Wielki, as reported Defence24.pl. The choice of this section is not coincidental: in 2021 this section was expanded to be used as an auxiliary landing strip, with a road width of 30 meters, a 2.5 kilometer long runway and a platform to park aircraft.
These auxiliary runways would allow the Polish Air Force to continue operating if its bases were attacked during a possible Russian invasion. A possibility that this country takes seriously after the threat launched by the Russian State Duma against Poland in May 2022, pointing it out as the next country to invade after Ukraine. Proof of this concern is that According to the Polish military newspaper Polska Zbrojna, it has been 20 years since the Polish Air Force did an exercise of this type. You can see here the video published by Polska Zbrojna about this exercise (it is in Polish, but unfortunately the video does not have subtitles):
Combat Camera DORSZ has also published an excellent video of this training:
A CASA C-295M transport aircraft of the 13th Aviation Squadron of the 3rd Transport Aviation Wing.
A Lockheed C-130E Hercules transport aircraft of the 14th Aviation Squadron of the 3rd Transport Aviation Wing. It was the largest aircraft that participated in this exercise.
A General Dynamics F-16C Fighting Falcon fighter of the 2nd Tactical Aviation Wing. The aircraft carried two AIM-120 AMRAAM medium-range air-to-air missiles on its marginal mounts and one AIM-9 Sidewinder short-range air-to-air missile under the starboard wing.
An F-16D two-seat fighter from the Tactical Aviation Wing landing on the road. We see the airbrakes deployed on both sides of the engine nozzle.
The F-16D in the previous photo already parked on the platform next to this auxiliary runway.
A photo of an F-16D in which we see its armament: two AIM-120 AMRAAM medium-range air-to-air missiles on their marginal supports and one AIM-9 Sidewinder short-range air-to-air missile under the starboard wing. This plane also carried two external fuel tanks under its wings.
The landing of an F-16D on the auxiliary runway of provincial road 604.
The patch of this exercise on the arm of a Polish soldier. He says "Route 604 Wielbark", imitating the famous emblem of US Route 66.
An M-346 Master training aircraft, nicknamed "Bielik" in the Polish Air Force, belonging to the 4th Training Aviation Wing.
Two Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29 of the 1st Tactical Aviation Wing, about to land.
Two F-16Ds, an F-16C and an M-346 taxiing along this auxiliary runway.
Main photo: Ministerstwo Obrony Narodowej.
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