Aerially-deployed plastic landmines in post-conflict nations present unique detection and disposal challenges. Their small size, randomized distribution during deployment, and low-metal content make these mines more difficult to identify using traditional methods of electromagnetic mine detection. Perhaps the most notorious of these mines is the Sovietera PFM-1 “butterfly mine,” widely used during the decade-long Soviet-Afghan conflict between 1979 and 1989. Predominantly used by the Soviet forces to block otherwise inaccessible mountain passages, many PFM-1 minefields remain in place due to the high associated costs of access and demining. While the total number of deployed PFM-1 mines in Afghanistan is poorly documented, PFM-1 landmines make up a considerable percentage of the estimated 10 million landmines remaining in place across Afghanistan. Their detection and disposal presents a unique logistical challenge for largely the same reasons that their deployment was rationalized in inaccessible and sparsely populated areas of the country.



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