Butterfly Mine

  • IASbaba
  • August 13, 2022
  • 0
Science and Technology
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In News: The UK Ministry of Defence, in its intelligence assessment of the ongoing war in Ukraine, has and sounded an alarm on the possible use of PFM-1 series ‘Butterfly Mines’ by the Russian military in Donetsk and Kramatorsk.

What is the intelligence assessment put out by UK?

  • As per an intelligence bulletin, Russia is likely to have deployed anti-personnel mines to deter freedom of movement along its defensive lines in the Donbas.
  • These mines have the potential to inflict widespread casualties amongst both the military and the local civilian population.
  • Commonly called the ‘butterfly mine’, the PFM-1 series are deeply controversial, indiscriminate weapons.
  • PFM-1s were used to devastating effect in the Soviet-Afghan War where they allegedly maimed high numbers of children who “mistook them for toys”.
  • It added that it is highly likely that the Soviet-era stock being used by Russia will have degraded over time and is now unreliable and unpredictable.
  • This poses a threat to both the local population and humanitarian mine clearance operations.

What is the ‘Butterfly Mine’ and why is it called so?

  • The PFM-1 and PFM-1S are two kinds of anti-personnel landmines that are commonly referred to as ‘Butterfly mines’ or ‘Green Parrots’.
  • These names are derived from the shape and colour of the mines.
  • The main difference between the PFM-1 and PFM-1S mine is that the latter comes with a self destruction mechanism which gets activated within one to 40 hours.
  • The ‘Butterfly mine’ has earned a reputation for being particularly attractive to children because it looks like a coloured toy.
  • It is very sensitive to touch and just the act of picking it up can set it off.
  • Because of the relatively lesser explosive packed in this small mine, it often injures and maims the handler rather than killing them.
  • These mines are also difficult to detect because they are made of plastic and can evade metal detectors.
  • These mines can be deployed in the field of action through several means, which include being dropped from helicopters or through ballistic dispersion using artillery and mortar shells.
  • These mines glide to the ground without exploding and later explode on coming in contact.
  • Since these mines were green in colour when they were first put to use they also earned the name ‘Green Parrots’.

What are the technical specifications of this mine?

  • The PFM series mines are moulded in polythene plastic and have two wings, one of which is heavier than the other.
  • The thicker wing is the pressure activation for the main fuse which is contained in the central body.
  • The thinner wing acts as a stabiliser for the mine when it is air-dropped, thus giving it the name ‘butterfly’.
  • As per data available on the mine, a pressure exceeding 5 kg will activate the mine which contains 40g of explosive.
  • The rapid means of deployment of the mine and the fact that it can be indiscriminately scattered to impede the advance of an enemy makes it an attractive option for a field commander, regardless of the danger that these can pose for non-combatants living in the area.

Are these kinds of mines allowed by international law?

  • The anti personal mines are banned by international convention on land lines but Russia and Ukraine are not signatories to it.
  • However, there is a 1996 Amended Protocol II to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons-the Landlines Protocol to which Russia and Ukraine are signatories.
  • In the ongoing conflict, both countries have accused each other of having used these mines, since both posses them in sufficient numbers.

Source: Indian Express

Previous Year Question

Q.1) What is “Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD)”, sometimes seen in the news? (2018)

  1. An Israeli radar system
  2. India’s indigenous anti-missile programme
  3. An American anti-missile system
  4. A defence collaboration between Japan and South Korea.

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