Butterfly mine

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
2-side view of the Soviet anti-personnel mine PFM-1; Both models show ammunition for instruction, marked by the punched Cyrillic U

Butterfly Mine is the common name for small anti-personnel mines used by aircraft , missiles or artillery grenades are thrown out. Usually it is cluster munitions . The name of this mine comes from the aerodynamic surfaces, which slow down the fall of the mine and are supposed to promote its expansion over a large area.

The American model BLU-43 / B "Dragontooth", which was last used in the Vietnam War , is particularly well known . It has no self-destruct mechanism, but the explosives become inactive after an unknown time. However, the fuse and detonator are practically indefinitely active.

The Soviet mine PFM-1 or PFM-1S (same model with self-destruct mechanism after 24 hours) is an almost exact replica of the American BLU-43 / B and was mainly used in the Afghan war. The type PFM-1 was also found on areas of the former Wittstock military training area in the state of Brandenburg .


Butterfly mines are more or less visible on the surface of the earth and are therefore easier to find than other mines, also because of their metal content. However, the mines are usually covered by vegetation or mud, the camouflage color and the irregular shape make discovery even more difficult. Since they hardly contain any magnetic metal, a metal detector is not suitable for detection. A method has been known since 2018 that uses drones and infrared cameras to track down the mines. The mines can be ignited extensively by the overpressure of a military clearing charge and thus rendered harmless. Since the mines are extremely dangerous to deal with, they have to be blown up on site.

Humanitarian Aspects

The weapons are not recognizable as such at first glance. “They look harmless like toys”. Children in particular keep the mines unaware of the dangers and can be killed or seriously maimed.

Since the mines are spread over large areas depending on the wind and the dropping height, it is very difficult to precisely delimit the areas affected by these mines.

Areas where these mines were dropped include: Vietnam (by the US), Afghanistan , Armenia , Azerbaijan (by the Soviet Army), Iraq (against the Kurds in the north) and Somalia .


  • Christian Dänzer: Technical work on land mines. 1999, (detailed list of sources available online )

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Christian Dänzer: Risks in connection with anti-personnel mines (butterfly mines) ( Memento from December 24, 2004 in the Internet Archive ) (viewed on August 12, 2011)
  2. "Researchers use drones in the fight against landmines" Spiegel Online (accessed December 17, 2018)
  3. "Researchers use drones in the fight against landmines" Spiegel Online (accessed December 17, 2018)
  4. "Butterfly mines defused" press report MAZ from August 26, 2009 (viewed on August 12, 2011)
  5. Documentation by Kinderhilfe Afghanistan (accessed on August 12, 2011)