What are Butterfly Mines – Know all about them

The ‘butterfly mine’ or the PFM-1 series have the capability to inflict widespread casualties amongst the military as well as civilian population.

What are Butterfly Mines – Know all about them
The 'butterfly mine’ or the PFM-1 series have the capability to inflict widespread casualties amongst the military as well as civilian population.

In the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, Russia is alleged to have used the controversial ‘Butterfly Mine’ which is an anti-personnel mine and is deployed to deter the freedom movement of the forces along the enemy line.

Has Russia used it?
Reports quoting the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) claim that the Russian forces have likely attempted using these mines which belong to the Soviet-era, along its defensive lines in the Donbas.

More about PFM-1 ‘Butterfly Mine’ or Green Parrot
In its intelligence assessment of the ongoing war, the UK Ministry of Defence, has sounded an alarm on the possible use of PFM-1 series and PFM-1S scatterable anti-personnel mines ‘Butterfly Mines’. In its assessment, it says the Russian military could have used in Donetsk and Kramatorsk.

These mines, commonly known as `butterfly mine’, the PFM-1 series have the capability to inflict widespread casualties amongst the military as well as civilian population. These mines are considered to be controversial and an indiscriminate weapon.

Both PFM-1 and PFM-1S are two kinds of anti-personnel landmines. These are commonly referred to as ‘Butterfly mines’ or ‘Green Parrots’. They have got their name because of the design/shape and colours.

The main difference between the PFM-1 and PFM-1S mine is that there is a self destruction mechanism in the latter. And within 40 hours this gets activated.

According to the UK Defence Ministry bulletin, the first time these anti-personnel PFM-1s were used was during the Soviet-Afghan War and they are alleged to have maimed a large number of children which “mistook them for toys,” the bulletin said.

Children are attracted to the ‘Butterfly mine’ because it looks like a toy and is known to be sensitive to touch. Just the very act of picking it up can set it off and it often ends up maiming and injuring the handler as it has less explosive packed in it. They are made of plastic and are difficult to detect and can easily evade metal detectors.

Where can they be deployed?
These mines are often dropped from helicopters, or through ballistic dispersion using mortar shells and artillery in the field of action. Because of their green colour, they have also earned the name of `Green Parrot’.  These mines after being dropped glide down to the ground and explode on coming in contact.

To impede the movement of the Afghan Mujahideen there are reports which suggest that more than a million such mines were airdropped in valleys and mountain passes in Afghanistan and almost 30,000 Afghans are believed to have been victims of these mines.

Technical Specifications
The PFM series mines have two wings – and one is heavier than the other. This is molded in polythene plastic. The thicker wing which is slightly heavier than the other is used as pressure activation for the main fuse. The main fuse is in the central body and when it is air-dropped the thinner and lighter wing is used as a stabiliser for the mine.

According to the data available in the public domain when a pressure which is exceeding 5 kg is applied, it will activate the mine which has 40g of explosive in it. Since these can be deployed faster to stop the movement of the enemy, the field commanders find it as an attractive option. However, it is not just the enemy soldier who can hurt, even the civilian population in the area can get affected.

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