French HPD2A2 Mines in Ukraine

Earlier this week (7 November) Alexander Borodai, the former leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic now a member of the Russian Duma for the separatist region, was seen in a video showing a near miss with a French HPD 2A2 anti-vehicle mine. The video, believed to have been filmed south of Kherson, showed the lead vehicle of Borodai’s convoy damaged by a mine, while another mine was seen next to his vehicle. The lead vehicle appears to be badly damaged with the front of the vehicle seemingly taking the brunt. If the vehicles was damaged by a HPD 2A2 it is interesting that the 4×4 vehicle was able to set off the mine which is designed to be triggered by heavier armoured vehicles, though some sources state movement of even smaller metal objects near by can trigger the mine. Similary Borodai is lucky not to have triggered the mine’s anti-tamper system.

The mine is clearly identifiable as a French HPD-2A2 with the lot number 01-BT-19. Various sources suggest around 400,000 of the HPD series of mines have been produced and they’re in service with the French, Norwegian, Belgian and Swiss armed forces. From Borodai’s video we can see the mine has a serial number of ‘9131229‘. Another example photographed in early October has the partial serial number ‘91296..’ visible. Both mines are from the same lot and the end digits seem to denote year of manufacture – 2019.

Russian sources suggest the mines have been in theatre since August but the first images of the mines were shared in early July, pictured in the back of a Ukrainian van with German DM-22 off-route mines and DM-31s. Some video was released by a Ukrainian explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) officer in July which is claimed to show a Russian vehicle destroyed by one of the HPD-2A2 mines.

The HPD family of mines (which includes the HPD 1, 2 and 3) began to be developed in the early 1980s by Thomson-CSF and Daimler-Chrysler Aerospac. The HPD2 (or MI AC HPD F2 in French service) was introduced in 1988. The mines use a 3.3kg charge made up of an RDX/TNT mix to create an explosively formed penetrator using the Misznay–Schardin effect. The mines are said to be able to penetrate armour between 100 to 150mm thick. The mines have a 10 minute arming delay once set and can be active for up to 30 day before they deactivate themselves. Because the mine can be triggered by the electromagnetic field of a metal detector it has been said that this contravenes the Geneva Convention’s Protocol II (May 3, 1996).

The HPD-2 is made up of two sections: a fuze assembly with a magnetic influence sensor and a two battery power supply, the self-neutralising system and the arming mechanism and the mine’s explosive charge. It reportedly has an anti-handling device sensitive to motion and the signals produced by metal detectors. The mine is detonated when the seismic sensor reacts to vibrations made by passing vehicles and a magnetic sensor is activated. The magnetic sensor uses variation in the earth’s magnetic field caused by the proximity of a vehicle’s large metal mass. Sources suggest the magnetic sensors is triggered by vehicles over 8 tons.

While there has been no official confirmation the mines are believed to have been provided by France as part of their military aid to Ukraine which has also included VAB armoured vehicles, Mistral short range air defence systems and anti-tank guided missile systems including MILAN and Javelin.

We’ve previously examined the German DM22, Estonian PK-14 and Russian PTKM-1R mines in use in Ukraine.


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Bibliography:

HPD-2 Landmine, CAT-UXO, (source)

MI AC HPD F2 Landmine, Fenix Insight, (source)

HPD Mine, Lexpev.nl, (source)

HPD Mines, Rufor.org, (source)

MI ACH 88, RMS, (source)

State Duma deputy’s security car blows up on French HPD anti-tank mine in Ukraine’s Kherson region, EuroWeekly, (source)

Arms For Ukraine: French Weapons Deliveries To Kyiv, Oryx, (source)

PK-14 Directional Mines In Ukraine

Recently another interesting anti-tank mine was spotted in use in Ukraine. The Estonian PK-14 or M14 directional mine appeared in photographs which were shared online around 9 September. The PK-14 is a directional mine capable of penetrating about 50mm of armour at a distance of 50 meters.

Photos of the PK-14 in the field were shared for the first time on 9 September (via Social Media)

Unlike the German DM22, which is also in service with Ukrainian forces, the PK-14 utilises the Misznay–Schardin effect with 1.5kg charge of PBX used to create an explosively formed penetrator. The PK-14 is capable of damaging most light IFVs and AFVs. It can be set up on a small tripod or even mounted to a tree, telephone poll or post – useful for attacking targets from above.   

The Estonian defence company who manufactures the mine list it as both the PK-14 and M14.  The mine is produced by Terramil under license from another Estonian defence company, Eesti Arsenal, who also offer several training systems.

The PK-14 assembled (nucking_futs_yuri)
The PK-14 assembled, tripod in the tall configuration (nucking_futs_yuri)
The PK-14 assembled, tripod in the low configuration (nucking_futs_yuri)

The PK-14 has a diopter sight which attaches to the top of the mine and allows it to be laid across the expected path of a target. The sight itself is a inexpensive moulded plastic tube with a narrow aperture which was described to us by an American serving with the Ukrainian armed forces as looking “like a scope you would find on a cheap toy gun at the corner store”. The mine’s casing is cleverly designed with a series of grooves that allow the sight to be slid into place and for the mine itself to be mounted on its tripod.

The PK-14’s sight tube (nucking_futs_yuri)

This instructional video from the manufacturers shows how the mine can be set up. The mine is command-initiated using a shock tube integrated system (STIS). This means that the mine isn’t tripped by a wire like the German DM-22 or by movement as in the Russian PTKM-1R, but in person by an operator. In practice the operator would set up the mine at a location the enemy is expected to pass, unspool the shock cord back to a concealed position and wait for the enemy vehicle to move within range of the mine.

In theory it is possible to rig the mines up with a makeshift pressure plate detonation system you could take the pressure plate from a conventional anti-tank mine like a TM-46 or TM-57 and wrap some detcord with a blasting cap at the end around it so when a vehicle rolls over it detonates the mine. The mine can be set up to strike from above so it hits the tank’s weak top armour or buried in the middle of the road so it can strike up through the vehicle’s belly armour.

The PK-14’s basic components (nucking_futs_yuri)

Special thanks to nucking_futs_yuri, who is best known as the turret gunner who ran an M2 Browning and was handed some AT4s by his vehicle crew when he called for more ammunition in a recent viral video. Yuri has provided photos and video of a PK-14 in his units inventory. Check out his video showing the components of the mine here.

It’s a small, affordable mine but it is currently unknown how many PK-14 mines have been sent to Ukraine but Estonia, along with the other Baltic states, has been a significant supporter of Ukraine since before Russia’s invasion in February. Estonia began procuring the mines for the Estonian Defence Force in 2015.

nucking_futs_yuri’s video showing the components and set up of the PK-14

In terms of how they may be deployed in Ukraine, the small size and light weight of the PK-14 may be useful for small Ukrainian reconnaissance and special forces teams operating behind Russian lines. Yuri explained that they’re preferred over convention Soviet TM mines as they’re lighter, he stated that:

“normally we each take 2 or more with us, set up our ambush and wait. We could mount them high if need be and get the top of the turret or even bury them in the middle of the road… so it explodes under the center of the tank.”

Check out Yuri’s YouTube channel and Instagram page.


If you enjoyed this video and article please consider supporting our work here. We have some great perks available for Patreon Supporters – including custom stickers and early access to videos! Thank you for your support!


Bibliography:

PK-14 Landmine, CAT-UXO, (source)

‘The “smart” mines produced by an Estonian company will receive their first combat missions in Ukraine’, Forte, (source)

Anti-armor mine PK-14, Terramil, (source)

PK-14 Side Mines, Eesti Arsenal, (source)