Indian Army – Water Obstacle Crossing Operations


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.

In this article, we take a broad-look at how the Indian Army goes about crossing these water obstacles with pictures from various military exercises.

(1) 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.

BMP-2 entering a canal during a military exercise (source: The Hindu)

(2) Exhibit 2 –

BMP-2 crossing Sutlej river during Exercise Pine Prahaar. 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.


(3) Exhibit 3 –

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

T-72 tank crossing a canal using a bridge laid down by a BLT during Exercise Pine Prahaar

(4) Exhibit 4 –

During Sudarshan Shakti exercise in the desert region, infantry crossing the water obstacle (canal) to establishment bridgehead.

(5) Exhibit 5 –

BMP-2 entering canal water

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.

(6) Exhibit 6 –

BMP-2 crossing over:

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.

BMP-2 going up the far bank of the canal. As can be seen, the bank has been breached to provide access to the BMPs.

(7) Exhibit 7 –

During Exercise Divya Astra, T-72 tanks can be seen 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.

(8) Exhibit 8 –

BMP-2 Amphibious Armoured Dozer

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 meters to 100 meters 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”

(9) Exhibit 9 –

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”

(10) Exhibit 10 –

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.

Indian Army T-72 tank undertaking a snorkeling exercise. The tube to left of the commander is the snorkeling tube which is used to feed air to the engine and crew when the tank is submerged.

The video below shows the Russian tanks demonstrating snorkeling ability.


(11) Exhibit 11 – Indian Mechanized Infantry Canal Crossing

Video of Indian Army’s mechanized infantry showing the employment of BMP-2. Please watch from 2 minute mark to see water obstacle crossing ability of the BMP-2.

(12) Exhibit 12 – Indian Army 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.


Thanks you for reading. Do share your feedback.

4 Comments on "Indian Army – Water Obstacle Crossing Operations"

  1. Nice work, Rohit. Drink(s) from my side too, of course in Mumbai.

  2. Thanks…glad you liked it.

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