When NATO Aircraft Practiced Their Driving Skills on West German Highways
Our quest for awesome aviation footage to share with Avgeekery Nation never ends. We’ve discovered some classic 1980s footage featuring NATO aircraft operating from, of all places, West German autobahns (highways). Now be advised that the audio (and the subtitles) are auf Deutsch, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying the landings, servicing, support equipment and personnel arming the jets, and takeoffs from Autobahn A29 near Ahlhorn in 1988. The video was uploaded to YouTube by Bundeswehr.
Featured in the film are Luftwaffe F-4F Phantom IIs, Transall C-160 airlifters, Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jets, and Panavia Tornados. Royal Air Force Jaguars, Koninklijke Luchtmacht (Netherlands Air Force) General Dynamics F-16Bs, and US Air Force A-10 Warthogs (“Panzerknackers”) and McDonnell Douglas F-15A Eagles. At the ‘Highway Airfield’ are a mobile tower and radar systems as well as anti-aircraft missiles and gun tracks.
These strips are usually 2 to 3.5 kilometer-long (1.2 to 2.2 mile) straight sections of the highway built with removable crash barriers instead of medians. Some strips are also equipped with taxiways and ramps. The roadways are reinforced and pre-positioned temporary airport facilities, such as mobile radar and control towers, are often co-located with the strips. Overpasses close to the strips are adorned with warning panels. We’ve featured the way the Swedes operate their tactical jets from roads. Other countries who have utilized road surfaces as runways include Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Bulgaria, Chile, China, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Lithuania, North Korea, Pakistan, Poland, Singapore, Slovakia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Taiwan, and the former USSR. The claim that the American Interstate highway system was intended, built, or adapted for use as aircraft runways is an urban legend…as is the claim that the German autobahns were originally built for anything other than transporting supplies and war material- they were only adapted for use as airfields later.