Indian Army - Canal Crossing Operations (Photo Essay)


We have seen that the territory to the west is strewn with canals and other water obstacles of varying sizes. So, it is but obvious that managing such obstacles should be one of the top priorities of the army.

Let us take a look at the pictures of canal crossing(s) during various exercises undertaken by the Indian Army.

Exhibit 1 - BMP-2 moves into a canal during a pre-training exercise at Suratgarh, Rajasthan.This  picture was taken during summer exercise “Vijay Bhava” in mid 2011 where II Corps undertook maneuvers to test “operational and transformational” effectiveness.

Exhibit 2 - Exercise Pine Prahaar 

BMP-2 crossing Sutlej River - So, apart from canals, IA seems to have planned for crossing of large water bodies as well. This may come handy in case bridges on rivers cannot be secured. However, the current of the river is an important parameter while judging the crossing point.

BLT - Bridge Laying Tank - used to bridge gaps (water/dry) and allow for movement of mechanized columns across.

Bridge on canal - this is how the bridge is placed on the water body.

Exhibit 3 - Exercise Unknown

Infantry crossing the river to establishment bridgehead

BMP-2 entering canal water

BMP-2 crossing over – if you observe the embankment of the canal, the cement lining of the bank has been broken. This I think is required to provide traction and easy access for entry and exit of the mechanized vehicles. Otherwise, the angle of the embankment might prove a challenge for smooth entry and exit.

If you compare with the first picture in this post, you can see that the water body (probably a canal), does not have steep embankment and the BMP-2 has been launched directly into the water.

BMP-2 exiting the canal at other bank. Here again, the canal embankment has been broken and a passage cleared.

Exhibit 4 - Exercise Divya Astra

T-72 tanks crossing the bridge on the canal. Here again, the canal bank has been broken to allow the laying of bridging equipment. You can see the dozer in the background which would have cleared the passage.

Gun forward, the length of each T-72 is ~9.5 mtrs – so, with three tanks on the bridge and the gap between the tanks, I think the bridge length is around 50 meters.

This is a pontoon bridge. You can see how it is constructed in the video about Corps of Engineers linked below in the post.


This is capable of amphibious crossing to prepare the far bank of canal for laying of own bridge equipment.


"The vehicle has a crew of two, consisting of the driver and operator who are seated back-to-back and are provided with a dual control system. Trials of the vehicle were completed during 1998-99 and it is now under final evaluation for acceptance. Standard equipment includes a hydraulically operated earth bucket,a winch, front mounted track with mine ploughs and a rocket propelled earth anchor. The rocket propelled earth anchor is used for self recovery and has a maximum range of between 50 metres to 100 metres depending on a number of factors. It is provided with an NBC system and in the future an autonomous version with a NBC system could be developed for use in hazardous areas. The equipment has immense potential in project sites and areas affected by natural disasters like floods, earth quakes, etc. It's winching, towing, amphibious, high mobility cross country performance, capability of loading and unloading of cargo and rugged design make it an extremely versatile equipment"

AAD launching rocket propelled anchor 

Exhibit 6 - BMP-2 Armoured Engineer Reconnaissance Vehicle (AERV)


"Based on the BMP-2 ICV, the Engineer Reconnaissance Vehicle (ERV) is intended to be a fully integrated system amphibious vehicle capable of acquiring, recording and transmitting combat engineer and military bridging reconnaissance data to a central command post. This enables the engineers to cross both dry and water obstacles. The ERV can provide a considerable amount of detailed information including height and slope of the river bank, load bearing capability of the soil and bed profile of the river. Equipment installed on the ERV includes a gyro land navigation system, a global positioning system, a radio navigation and guidance system, a hand held recording cum penetrometre to test soil, an electronic disomat and theodolite, a water current meter, an echo sounder, a laser rangefinder, picket driving and trail blazing equipment"

Exhibit 7 - Tank Snorkeling

Tanks have the ability to cross submerged and get to the other side of water body. This is called snorkeling. However, the tank needs to be prepared for this and the time required depends on the tank. 

Video of Russian T-90 and T-80 tanks demonstrating snorkeling

Exhibit 8 - Indian Mechanized Infantry Canal Crossing

Please check between 2:00 and 3:00 minutes to get a glimpse of amphibious canal crossing operations. 

Exhibit 9 - Indian Army Corps of Engineers

A must see video of Corps of can see how various kinds of bridges are put in place

Exhibit 10 - Exercise Video

Video of what looks like Exercise Pine Prahaar. You can see the video of the picture linked earlier (of BMP-2 in Sutlej) in the video


Anonymous said…
Nice work, Rohit. Drink(s) from my side too, of course in Mumbai.
Rohit Vats said…
Thanks...glad you liked it.

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