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A PFM-1 training mine, distinguishable from the live version by the presence of the Cyrillic character "У".
PFM-1 schematic

PFM-1 (Russian: ПФМ-1, short for противопехотная фугасная мина - anti-infantry high-explosive mine; NATO name: Green parrot, also known as butterfly mine) is a land mine of Soviet production, very similar to the BLU-43 US Army landmine. Both devices are very similar in shape and principles, although they use different explosives.


The mine is, in essence, a plastic container containing explosive liquid. The mine is stored with a pin restraining a detonating plunger. Once the arming pin is removed, the plunger is slowly forced forward by a spring until it contacts the detonator, at which point it is armed. This takes between one and forty minutes, allowing the mine to be deployed manually, or air dropped.

Deformation of the soft plastic skin of the mine forces the arming plunger to strike the detonator, detonating the mine. Because the body of the mine is a single cumulative pressure primer, it is extremely dangerous to handle the mine: A single press of 5 kg or more will make it function. The charge is usually nonlethal, although sufficient to destroy part of the foot if stepped on.

The shape of the PFM-1 derives from close-packing within the dispenser casing. The resultant shape and bright colour is attractive to children, inspiring Western media claims that they were deliberately designed to look like a toy.[1][2] This has always been denied by the Soviets. The plastic body can be moulded in a variety of colours for best camouflage. As existing stocks were in European green, rather than sand coloured, the first examples used in 1980s Afghanistan were green and so easily visible. This led to their name of 'green parrots' and encouraged the deliberate toy theory.[3]

The mine can be deployed both from helicopters and by infantry. In the latter variant, a number of mines are spread over a circle with a diameter of ~15 meters.

Once the fuze on a PFM-1 mine is armed it cannot be disarmed. A variant of the mine, PFM-1S, self-destroys after one to forty hours, with 85% of the mines destroyed by 80 hours. The standard render-safe procedure is to destroy the mine on site by detonating a small explosive charge next to it.

Military use[edit]

PFM-1 was mainly used during the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan, resulting in a high number of casualties among children since it was often mistaken for a toy due to its shape and coloring.[4] As the mine exploded, it often resulted in hand and head trauma, which was frequently lethal. This characteristic made this particular type of land mine a principal target for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.


  • Weight: 75 g
  • Filling: 37 g of VS6-D or VS-60D liquid explosive
  • Fuze: MVDM/VGM-572
  • Length: 120 mm
  • Width: 20 mm
  • Height: 61 mm
  • Operating pressure: 5–25 kg

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Braithwaite, Rodric (2011). Afgantsy : the Russians in Afghanistan, 1979-89. Oxford University Press. pp. 234–235. ISBN 9780199832668.
  2. ^ [Soviet Toys of Death "Soviet Toys of Death"] Check |url= value (help). The New York Times. 10 December 1985. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  3. ^ McGrath, Rae (1998). Landmines: Legacy of Conflict: A Manual for Development Workers. pp. 39–40. ISBN 0-7881-3280-6.
  4. ^ Tanner, Stephen. "Afghanistan: A Military History"

External links[edit]