By Paolo Valpolini
It was announced a few years ago but with just a few information on its characteristics, and was shown for the first time in real at Army 2021 last August in Moscow, but the first international appearance of the PTKM-1R Russian antitank mine took place at EDEX.
Since their appearance Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) protection was maximised at the front, the glacis and the turret front portion, as initial tactics saw mostly head-to-head confrontations between MBTs armed with guns. The adoption of new tactics as well as the appearance of antitank missiles totally modified the scenario, bringing to increase armour on at least 270°, while also the tank bottom was reinforced to cope with mines. In the end the weakest portion of modern MBTs remains the top portion, therefore top-attack systems have been developed, among which fused munitions that are deployed by rocket launchers or artillery guns, which sense the presence of tanks using IR sensors detonating and generating an EFP (Explosively Formed Penetrator) directed towards the top of the tank turret.
At the Cairo exhibition the Petrovsky Plant presented in the Rosoboronexport booth its PTKM-1R top-attack anti–tank mine, which meant that the system is now cleared for export. This mine is made of a transport/launcher element and on the is planted by hand and comes in the form of a cylinder 510 mm high with a diameter of 220 mm, its weight being 19.9 kg of which 2.8 kg is the weight of explosive contained in the warhead. Once the deployment area is reached, the operator plants the mine; he releases the retaining bag, allowing the eight legs that in transport mode are folded along the body to open up. These form the base that gives stability to the PTKM-1R, keeping it in the upright position, two of them hosting seismic sensors. Releasing the bag also allows the four acoustic sensors at the top of the mine transport/launcher element to spring up and deploy into their operational position. After six minutes, the delay mechanism puts the mine in stand-by mode. Vibrations received by acoustic sensors when a vehicles gets closer than 100 meters wake-up the PTKM-1R which enters in combat mode, the upper element tilting by 30 degrees.
Acoustic sensors establish the direction of the target, and the control unit turning the launcher towards and tracking starts. Signals received from both types of sensors are processed by the control unit, and only when both noise and vibrations exceed programmed threshold levels target classification starts. If the targets falls among those that have to be destroyed acoustic sensors provide the direction the launcher must aim to while the control unit sets the shooting time. When the target vehicle approaches within 50 meters distance the seismic sensor gives the firing order and the launching charge is activated, which expels the warhead at an initial velocity of 30 m/s. After roughly 2.4 seconds it reaches the apogee, around 30 meters, and the warhead spins at 10 rounds/second thanks to an impulse reaction motor, the warhead IR and radar sensors scanning the ground to acquire the target. Usually at a height of around 20 meters the warhead is detonated generating the EFP that will kill the target. According to data provided by the manufacturer, the PTKM-1R penetrates a minimum of 70 mm rolled homogeneous armour.
The PTKM-1R can destroy targets travelling at a maximum speed of 50 km/h, and is fitted with a self-destroying mechanism that can be programmed from one to 10 days. It can operate at temperatures between –40°C up to 70°C. A typical use is to block a road, platting some mines at a distance between 10 and 40 meters from the road itself, or generating a minefield planting mines at 100 meters distance between them. According to images provided by Rosoboronexport, the PTKM-1R is designed to attack from the top the weakest parts of a main battle tank, therefore the warhead is aimed at the powerpack, which is usually installed at the rear of the MBT and is not much protected, air intakes being normally on the top.
Photos by P. Valpolini – Graphics courtesy Rosoboronexport