Highway Strips of Cyprus

A highway strip is a section of a motorway that is specially built to allow landing of (mostly) military aircraft and to serve as a military airbase. These were built to allow military aircraft to operate even if their airbases, the most vulnerable targets in any war, are destroyed. The first highway strips were constructed at the end of World War II in Nazi Germany, where the well developed Autobahn-system allowed aircraft to use the motorways. In the Cold War highway strips were systematically built on both sides of the Iron Curtain, mostly in the two Germanys, but also in Switzerland, Poland and Czechoslovakia.

The strips are usually 2 to 3,5 kilometer-long straight sections of the motorways, where the central reservation is made of crash barriers that can be removed quickly (in order to allow airplanes to use the whole width of the road), and other features of an airbase (taxiways, airport ramps) can be built. The specialized equipment of a typical airfield are stored somewhere nearby and only carried there when airfield operations start. The highway strips can be converted from motorways to airbases typically within 24 to 48 hours.

After the Turkish invasion of Cyprus at least two Highway strips were built in the independent part of Cyprus. Easily recognisable by a runway center line and markings for the touch down zone. One is located on the Limassol – Nicosia Highway (5,200 meters) and one of the Limassol – Larnaca highway (5,000 meters).

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