Beijing: China has flown warplanes on to and from a civilian road for the first time, state media said today, 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 yesterday, 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 of Tibet and Xinjiang.

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