What are Butterfly mines? Is it easy to detect? Are these kinds of mines allowed by international law? Read here to know more.
Butterfly mines, the name is very beautiful, right? But they are very dangerous.
The UK Ministry of Defence, in its intelligence assessment of the ongoing war in Ukraine, has sounded an alarm on the possible use of the PFM-1 series ‘Butterfly Mines’ by the Russian military in Donetsk and Kramatorsk.
Also, read about the Russia-Ukraine Conflict.
What are ‘Butterfly Mines’ and why is it called so?
- Anti-personnel landmines known as “Butterfly mines” or “Green Parrots” include the PFM-1 and PFM-1S.
- These names are derived from the shape and colour of the mines.
- The main distinction between the PFM-1 and PFM-1S mines is that the latter has a self-destruction mechanism that activates after one to forty hours.
- The ‘Butterfly mine’ has earned a reputation for being particularly attractive to children because it looks like a coloured toy.
- These mines glide to the ground without exploding and later explode on coming in contact.
- It is very sensitive to touch and just the act of picking it up can set it off.
- This small mine frequently injures and maims the handler instead of killing them. This is due to the relatively less explosive packed inside. It is made of plastic and cannot detect using metal detectors. So these mines are also challenging to find.
- Butterfly mines can be dropped from helicopters or dispersed using artillery and mortar shells in a ballistic manner, among other methods, on the battlefield.
- These mines acquired the nickname “Green Parrots” because they were originally green in colour.
What are the technical specifications of Butterfly mines?
The mines in the PFM series are made of polyethene plastic and have two wings, one of which is heavier than the other. The thicker wing acts as a pressure sensor for the main fuse, which is housed in the central body. When the mine is air-dropped, the thinner wing acts as a stabiliser, earning it the nickname “butterfly.” According to mine data, a pressure greater than 5 kg will activate the mine, which contains 40g of explosives.
The mine’s rapid deployment and ability to be dispersed indiscriminately to impede an enemy’s advance make it an appealing option for a field commander, despite the danger that these can pose to non-combatants living in the area.
Technology for detection
- Drones with thermal imaging cameras to locate them.
- Plastic retains and emits heat.
How are these mines associated with the Soviet Union and Afghanistan?
According to some estimates, over a million ‘Butterfly mines’ litter Afghanistan and were air-dropped in valleys and mountain passes to obstruct the Afghan Mujahideen movement. More than 30,000 Afghans are believed to have been killed by these mines, with many of them being children.
Are these kinds of mines allowed by international law?
- Anti-personnel mines are prohibited by an international convention on landlines, but Russia and Ukraine have not signed on to it.
- However, Russia and Ukraine are signatories to the 1996 Amended Protocol II to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons-the Landlines Protocol.
- Both countries have accused each other of using these mines in the ongoing conflict, despite the fact that both have a sufficient number of them.
- Allegations and counter-allegations have been made in Mariupol, Kharkiv, and now Donetsk about the use of these mines.
Article Written by: Remya