Antivehicle Mines with Sensitive Fuzes or Antihandling Devices
Human Rights Watch Backgrounder
February 25, 2002
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Key Sections

Index Page

Part I: Introduction and Progress to Date

Part II: Sensitive Fuzes

Part III: Antihandling Devices


Several different types of fuzes are used to initiate AVM. Generally, AVM are not intentionally designed to explode by the presence, proximity, or contact of a person when they operate as designed. However, some of these fuzes may be sensitive enough to be initiated by a person because a consequence of their design causes the mine to explode by the presence, proximity, or contact of a person. Additionally, some AVM fuzes lend themselves to modification that makes them more susceptible to being activated by a person. For example, a tilt rod fuze manufactured in the former Yugoslavia has a hole in the tilt rod to permit the attachment of a trip wire.
Accordingly, the ICBL has expressed the view that if the fuzing mechanism for an AVM is sensitive enough to be activated by the unintentional act of a person, that AVM meets the definition of an antipersonnel mine in the Mine Ban Treaty and is prohibited (AHD are addressed in the following section). This section will address the following types of AVM fuzes and highlight any steps taken by States Parties to insure their compliance with the Mine Ban Treaty:
· Pressure Activated
· Tripwires
· Breakwires
· Tilt Rods
· Scratch Wires
· Magnetic Influence
· Acoustic and Seismic

Pressure Activated
Pressure activated AVM are quite common in the inventory of States Parties. Because some AVM are designed to activate at relatively low pressure thresholds, experts at the ICRC seminar recommended establishing a minimum pressure threshold of 150 kilograms or that design of these types of mines be altered in a way that pressure must be exerted over a "significant area" as opposed to a single point. It was noted that at least one existing antivehicle mine already is configured to account for weight distribution. At the Standing Committee meeting in May 2001, Landmine Action presented research conducted with Loughborough University, which showed that the forces exerted by a person in a variety of circumstances, including while running, alighting from a truck or skipping, could far exceed the equivalent of 150 kilograms. There are also reports that demining organizations have encountered during clearance operations AVM with the pressure plates removed, which dramatically lowers the pressure threshold necessary for activation of the mine. Such a type of modification would create a large de facto antipersonnel mine.

Summary of Practice by States Parties on Pressure Activated Fuzes

· No States parties have reported on measures taken to insure that pressure activated fuzes cannot be activated by the presence, proximity, or contact of a person.
· The following twenty-seven States Parties are reported to stockpile pressure activated fuzes: Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Honduras, Hungary, Japan, Jordan, Norway, Peru, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, Tunisia, and the United Kingdom.
· At least two States Parties are reported to stockpile pressure activated AVM capable of functioning below 150 kilograms of pressure: Brazil and Bulgaria.

Experts at the ICRC seminar broadly agreed that an AVM that relies on a tripwire as its sole firing mechanism should be considered an antipersonnel mine and removed from service. There was no apparent consensus among the experts regarding AVM with multiple fuze systems, one of which is a tripwire. The experts noted that equipping AVM with a tripwire as the sole firing mechanism is not a common practice and that such mines are being removed from arsenals. Additionally, one tilt rod fuze manufactured by the former Yugoslavia has a hole in it for the attachment of a tripwire.
Experts at the ICRC meeting recognized that infrared sensors could, in some circumstances, act like a tripwire. This is particularly true when active infrared sensors are used as the sole initiating mechanisms in an AVM. Experts recommended that infrared activated fuzes never be used alone in AVM and that active infrared sensors be avoided. The experts could not provide an example of an AVM using this type of fuze stockpiled by a States Party.

Summary of Practice by States Parties on AVM with Tripwire Fuzes

· Two States Parties are reported to stockpile AVM with tripwires: Czech Republic and Slovakia (Both possess an off route AVM called the PD-Mi-PK. In addition to a tripwire as a fuze, this mine also has contact wire and command detonation options. This mine was offered for sale by a Czech company at an arms fair in the Czech Republic in May 2001.)
· Sweden is reported to possess an AVM that uses a tripwire or infrared sensor.

Experts at the ICRC seminar noted that two types of breakwire are used: fine wire and fiber optic. Because a person can easily activate breakwires, experts recommended that neither be used as the sole fuze mechanism. Fine wire breakwires were deemed extremely sensitive and not capable of discriminating between vehicles and other targets thus acting as a tripwire. It was noted that one unidentified country has reclassified an AVM using a fine wire breakwire as an antipersonnel mine and had destroyed its stocks. Experts also noted that fine wire breakwires are not practical for use in multi-sensor fuze mechanisms. The other type of breakwire relies on crushing a fiber optic cable. Some designs rely on this action to cue other sensors capable of distinguishing between vehicles and persons.

Summary of Practice by States Parties on AVM with Breakwire Fuzes

· Four States Parties are reported to stockpile AVM that used a breakwire fuze: France, Germany, Netherlands, and Sweden.
· In a response by the Ministry of Defense of France to the CNEMA, it was acknowledged that the non-intentional act of a person could function the breakwire and cause the MIACAH F1 and MIACAH F2 AVM to explode. The CNEMA report also notes that Ministry of Defense is currently studying ways to replace the breakwire system with a mechanism that allows discrimination between vehicles and people.

Tilt Rods
The low amount of lateral pressure necessary to activate an AVM with tilt rod fuze makes it susceptible to be activated by a person. The experts at the ICRC meeting noted that it is difficult to modify tilt rod fuzes and that a more discriminating fuze system should replace it. Several States Parties have removed from service and destroyed AVMs with tilt rod fuzes or destroyed the tilt rod fuze. Canada and France previously declared destroying their inventories. Mali recently declared having destroyed half of its inventory of TM-57 AVMs with MVSh-57 tilt rod fuzes and stated its intention to destroy the rest. The United Kingdom destroyed 21,200 L39A1B1 tilt rod fuzes between April 1995 and April 1996. Hungary indicated in March 2000 that it had destroyed half its inventory of UKA-63 AVM with tilt rod fuzes, and would destroy the remaining 100,000 by March 2002. Czech authorities admit that the PT-Mi, PT-Mi-P, and PT-Mi-U AVM can be used with a tilt rod fuze but have said their AVM "are considered obsolete" and "are supposed to be put out of the armament in the course of the next 15 years."

Summary of Practice by States Parties on Tilt Rod Fuzes

· Five States Parties have destroyed, or have committed to destroy, their tilt rod fuzes: Canada, France, Hungary, Mali, and the United Kingdom.
· The Czech Republic acknowledges possessing tilt rod fuzes, which it considers obsolete and which are to be destroyed in the next 15 years.
· Eleven other States Parties are reported to stockpile tilt rod fuzes: Bulgaria, Chile, Croatia, Honduras, Jordan, Norway, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, and Thailand.

Scratch Wires
This type of fuzing mechanism was not specifically addressed at the ICRC seminar. However, the AT2 uses a fuze described as a "scratch wire." The reference publication Jane's Mines and Mines Clearance, 2000-2001 describes the AT2's fuzing mechanism as follows: the side of the assembly is the S3 target sensor, which initiates the mine (after an appropriate delay) when it contacts any part of the target vehicle. In this `scratch-wire' system, a short semi-flexible probe scrapes along the belly of the vehicle; the resultant vibrations are transmitted to the electronic fuze which validates the signal and initiates the mine. The fuze will also be initiated by direct pressure if run over (p. 464).

The Full Width Attack Mine fuze used with the United Kingdom's Barmine system also includes a sensor mast that is reported by the same source (p. 500) to operate in a similar way.

Summary of Practice by States Parties on Scratch Wire Fuzes

· Four States Parties stockpile the AT2: Germany, Italy, Norway, and the United Kingdom.
· The Czech Republic and Slovakia stockpile a mine similar to the AT2 called the PT-Mi-D1M.
· Two States Parties stockpile the Barmine: Denmark and the United Kingdom.

Magnetic Influence
Magnetic influence fuzes can be activated by the presence of metallic objects, and by a change in the magnetic field around the mine. The issue of AVM with magnetic influence fuzes potentially being prohibited by the Mine Ban Treaty is contentious given that many modern AVM rely on this type of fuze mechanism. For example, in the late 1990s, the United Kingdom imported the U.S. manufactured M87A1 Volcano AVM, which it calls the L35A1 Shielder. According to the U.S. manual on mine warfare, the mine does not have an internal AHD, but it "may detonate when moved, because the mine may sense a significant change from its original orientation." The design of early generation magnetic influence fuzes is of particular concern because the sensitivity of the fuzes may make them be more susceptible to explode from an innocent act.
Experts at the ICRC meeting noted that these types of AVM are designed to destroy or damage armored vehicles and that manufacturers should design these fuzes in a way not to be activated by small amounts of metal. However, experts did note that in theory, small amounts of metal could activate the mines. Because a change (caused by rotating or moving) in the magnetic field a mine with a magnetic influence fuze could also cause the mine to explode, it was also suggested that a secondary fuze or sensor be used in conjunction with magnetically activated fuzes to assure target discrimination. No thresholds or criteria were recommended.

Summary of Practice by States Parties on Magnetic Influence Fuzes

· Thirteen States Parties are reported to stockpile AVM with magnetic influence fuzes: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
· Some have raised questions about the FFV-028 (DM-31) and the possibility that it can explode when swept by a mine detector. The FFV-028 is stockpiled by Canada, Germany, Netherlands, and Sweden. The Netherlands has stated that it is investigating adapting this mine, but if this proves infeasible, it will remove these mines from service.
· Italy has determined that one aerially delivered AVM with a magnetically activated fuze, MIFF, is an antipersonnel mine and has included them in destruction plans. Germany also stocks the MIFF and has apparently made the opposite determination.
· The 2001 report of the CNEMA in France notes that in theory, the magnetic influence fuzes in the HPD F2, HPD F3, and Disp F1 AVM should not explode due to the proximity of a person. The CNEMA recommends that these mines be tested to confirm that they are permitted under the Mine Ban Treaty.

Acoustic and Seismic
Experts at the ICRC meeting did not identify any AVM that exclusively relies on these fuze types as its sole initiating mechanism. They recommended that such fuzes not be used and should be designed in a way not to be activated by stimuli and signatures of persons.
Italy has determined that one aerially delivered mine, MUSPA (an airfield denial anti-material and antipersonnel munition with an electronic/acoustic fuze system), is an antipersonnel mine and has included them in destruction plans. Germany also stocks the MUSPA and has apparently made the opposite determination.