Monday, September 10, 2012

Update: More Images-IA Canal Crossing Operations

Happened to come across some more images of Indian Army undertaking canal crossing operations. These are also from various exercises conducted by the IA over last couple of years.

1. T-72 entering the bridge over a canal.

2. BMP-2 crossing  the bridge over a canal. You can see the pontoon bridge has been tethered to the home and far bank of the canal. In case of a bigger water body, they would have required the use of the boats which form part of the whole PMS Pontoon Bridge System. The pic above and below are from exercise Hind Shakti-2009.

3. BMP-2 crossing the canal. The water body in the image looks similar into which BMP-2 can be seen entering in the first image of original photo-essay on canal crossing operations.

 Source (1, 2&3):

4. Infantry/Engineers waiting to cross over to the far bank of the canal. One can clearly see the raft. The tank will provide the fire-cover. I once remember seeing a video of IA on YouTube which showed a small body of engineers crossing over, followed by BMP-2 on their power and some T-72 tanks snorkeling over to the far bank. This seems to be a standard SOP to secure a lodgement across a water obstacle.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Indian Army - Canal Crossing Operation-II


In the previous post, I had presented a photo essay on  the canal/water crossing operations as practiced by the Indian Army during various exercises. To undertake such operations, right kind of bridging equipment is of utmost importance. In this post, I've tried to compile information about the bridging equipment of the Indian Army. In addition, we also take a look at videos of river crossing operations which show the sequence of various events.

Water obstacles crossing 

From what I've seen, such water obstacle crossing enterprise can be broadly divided into following components:
  • Secure the home bank of the canal.
  • Amphibious assault(s) across the water body to establish a lodgement and subsequently, a  larger bridgehead. The far bank of the water obstacle needs to be secured so that bridge can be put across and uninterrupted communication channel established. Needless to say, the forces which cross over need to be strong enough to first overcome the defenders and then guard against counter-attacks. These amphibious operations are undertaken by Infantry mounted on Infantry Combat Vehicles (ICV) like our BMP-2, in rafts of various kind and Main Battle Tanks (MBT) suitably modified to undertake such operations. Artillery support to suppress/eliminate the defenders and counter-battery fire is a must. In addition, air-support is required to keep away the enemy air-force as well as to suppress/eliminate enemy's defenses and forces in the area. Self Propelled (SP) Air Defense systems like Tungushka and Akash SAM mounted on T-72 chassis are used to provide AD cover.
  • Bridging operations - Once the bridgehead has been established, a bridge of a suitable type is put across the water obstacle. The main body of troops can then cross over and dash towards the main target(s). The support troops and vehicles forming the logistic chain follow thereafter to sustain troops fighting in the front.
Rest assured, such major crossing operations will receive every bit of love and attention from the enemy. The enemy will try to foil any such crossing and the event where he cannot do so, he'll try to delay the operations as much as possible. The fate of a major operation, battle or even the war may depend on the success (or otherwise) of such planned crossings. The enemy will bring to bear every possible asset under his command on such an operation by Indian Army.


Check these videos to have a look at the anatomy of such water obstacle crossing operation(s).

(a) Video 1 - Russian Army River crossing exercise.

The sequence of events in the video might not be correct. However, you can observe the following:
  • Infantry crossing over in BMP-2 ICVs. The BMP-2s can be seen firing their co-axial machines guns while still in water. I haven't manage to find a video of BMP-2 firing its main 30mm canon during amphibious crossings.
  • A strong body of tanks crossing over using the snorkeling method. Combined with Infantry+ICVs, these will constitute the main force to secure a lodgement and beat back initial counter-attacks.
  • You can also see a flight of Mi-8s crossing over the river; these can be used to insert infantry or special forces behind the enemy's defenses on the far-bank of the river and assault these defenses from the rear.
  • The ubiquitous Mi-24 gunships can be seen in the video giving top cover to the forces crossing over. In any major crossing, these gunships will be used to suppress/neutralize enemy defenses on the far-bank as well take out enemy forces in deep.
  • One can also see the Su-25 'Frogfoot' in action. In my opinion, the role of Su-25 in our case will be carried out to limited extent by Mig-27s.
  • One can also see amphibious ferry vehicles carrying trucks across the river.
  • In the final section, the Russian Army engineers can be seen putting together a pontoon bridge which is steered in place by tug-boats.
  • Once the bridge is put in place, the main body of troops can be seen crossing over, including a  ZSU-23-4 or 'Shilka'. These are used to provide AD cover to the troops.
In my opinion, what is missing is tanks providing direct fire support from home bank of the canal to forces crossing over.