In recent weeks Ukrainian forces have shared photographs of captured PTKM-1R mines. These are without doubt Russia’s most advanced anti-tank mine design. The PTKM-1R’s main feature is that it is a top attack munition, much like a Javelin or NLAW. It can strike down from above at a tank’s least protected point – its roof and engine deck.
The mines essentially brand new and were only publicly unveiled by Rosoboronexport in November 2021 at the Army 2021 exposition and later at EDEX 2021. They have been adopted by the Russian armed forces on a limited basis. The PTKM-1R was first seen in Ukraine back in late April, appearing to show it deployed. Russia have released no footage of the mines in action.
The PTKM-1R is a top-attack anti-tank/anti-vehicle mine which is designed to detect the passage of target vehicles using acoustic and seismic sensors. The launching charge then detonates and projects a submunition up into the air toward the target. As the sensor-fuzed submunition flies over the target and detects movement below it detonates firing an explosively formed penetrator (EFP) down onto the vehicle – attacking it where its armour is weakest.
The mine can engage targets at between 5 and 50m but can detect a target out to 100m. Targets are initially identified by the mine by comparing the detected signature with acoustic and seismic signatures in its internal database. Once a target is detected the mine calculates a flight path and the launch unit tilts 30-degrees toward the target to create a parabolic ballistic trajectory over the target. While the mine can detect targets in a 360-degree arc the mine itself has a limited arc, limited by the need to tilt before firing, the mine has a an arrow with ‘towards target’ for orientating the mine in the direction of expected engagement but in an Army 2021 presentation Rosoboronexport suggest that the mine can turn itself to face its target, and track it if needed.
The submunition is launched into the air at a speed of 30m/s to a height of approximately 30 metres. It then uses infrared sensors and radar to pinpoint its target before detonating its shaped charged to create an explosively formed penetrator. Rosoboronexport claim the mine can penetrate ‘at least 70mm’ of armour.
The PTKM-1R can be considered an off-route mine like the German DM-22 and Estonian PK14s which are known to be in use with Ukrainian forces but its ability to strike from above sets it apart. The nearest similar system is the short-lived US M93 Hornet developed by Textron in the 1980s.
The launch unit (or transporter-launcher) incorporates eight feet that are lowered when the mine is deployed these provide a stable platform. According to Rosoboronexport the PTKM-1R weighs 19.9kg while its payload is said to be around 2.8kg of explosive. Two seismic sensors, which sense the vibrations caused by approaching vehicles, are deployed and there are also four cardiod microphones at the top of the unit which listen for the sounds of heavy armoured vehicles.
On around the 10th September a second mine was photographed showing an undeployed PTKM-1R still in its transit chest. The mine was captured, reportedly by SSO, in the Kharkiv region on the eastern front where fighting has been significant and Russian forces appear to be rapidly falling back.
Update 17/10/22: On the 17th October, Ukrainian Telegram channels began sharing a short video of a PTKM-1R which appears to have launched its top-attack munition. The Telegram posts did not state where the footage was filmed. In the video we can see that the mine’s base unit has angled (supposedly towards its target) and has launched its munition.
Update: 23/11/22: A video from the DPR/DNR People’s Militia Press Office featuring a Russian sapper (possibly from the 56th Guards Air Assault Regiment operating in the Zaporizhzhia Oblast) explaining the deployment of the advanced Russian PTKM-1R top-attack mine. [Machine translation in video captions] H/t – Patrick Senft.
Update 26/11/22: Photographs of a deployed and detonated PTKM-1R have surfaced online.
Update – 2/02/2023: A short clip was shared on Telegram showing an intact and unfired PTKM-1R said to be in the Kherson region.
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Russian PTKM-1R Top-attack Anti-vehicle Mine Documented in Ukraine, ARES, (source)
PTKM-1R: Top-Attack Anti-Tank Mine, Rosoboronexport, (source)
PTKM-1R Landmine, Cat-UXO, (source)
PTKM-1R, Fenix Insight, (source)