Does The Russian Army Inflate Itself With Fake Tanks?
According to news sources, the Russian army has sort of redefined the concept of security. At least on the surface it now looks like super modern technology and powerful weapons will be making way for dummies, decoys, inflatable tanks, planes and rocket launchers! Their function is a more mature kind of detente; to distract attention and protect real combat units from strikes.
It is odd indeed that even from a distance of only 100 meters (328 feet), there’s no telling the difference between fake military hardware and the real thing. Perhaps it can fool the eye because all the equipment is fitted out to natural size and scale. Not only that, this military hardware has already been effectively (albeit quietly) used for the purpose of protecting Russian strategic installations from surveillance satellites.
Russian balloon-maker Rusbal, is a Research and Development enterprise located near Moscow. Their designers came up with the idea to inflate tanks like air balloons and they are responsible for exporting many fake weapons and armaments to other countries. The weaponry looks just like the real thing and it actually comes ready to inflate. Russia’s defense minister had placed his own order for a supply of full-scale inflatable weapon models, including the S-300 long range surface-to-air missile systems and inflatable models of tanks and airplanes, including the Su-27 (Flanker) fighter jet.
One news source claims the Russian army has been purchasing military dummies for the last three years. The problem with these earlier models was that that they were initially constructed of plywood, rubber or plastic. They were not only heavy but also unnatural looking. Now that’s all changed. In the words of Aleksandr Talanov, the plant’s Director General:
“They can reproduce a radar band, a thermal and near infra-red band similar to those produced by night vision instruments. All these makeshift models appear as real hardware on all these instruments.
Incredibly, the dummies actually radiate warmth, giving the distinct impression that engines are being warmed up and repelling the radio waves of enemy radars as if they were real combat vehicles. To foster the illusion, a launcher, for example, when photographed from the air or outer space can actually assume combat or traveling positions. Inflating a tank requires four minutes to set up on a battlefield; a launcher needs five.
According to Yury Stepanov, Rusbal’s laboratory chief:
“In a real district, a tank’s tower can be fixed more to the left or more to the right, so we show all these positions. There can also be additional fuel tanks. The real vehicles have them.”
Rusbal has increased production on full-scale inflatable weapons and armaments that are designed specifically to deceive passing satellites and spy planes about the country's real military strength. The company head, Aleksandr Talanov, has stated publicly that Rusbal plans to take the illusion of military might even further with the creation of models not only equipped with radar but also armed with radio-technical bands to enable them to imitate radio traffic and the appearance of working radar aids!
But the illusion needs one more thing to make the bogus equipment look real to spy satellites and reconnaissance planes; soldiers. Yes, a group of soldiers need to be deployed to allegedly service this equipment. They can be made to mount guards, carry out repairs and engage in training. This is one aspect of maintaining the illusion that Rusbal admits may not be feasable.
Russia is not the first country to think of this idea, no matter how wild it may sound. Dummies have been used throughout world history as part of military deception. During World War II a mission called “Fortitude South” used inflatable rubber armaments to create the illusion of a large invasion force being amassed in Kent, leading Germany to concentrate their forces in Pas-de-Calais rather than Normandy. In that same conflict, British magician, Jasper Maskylne, is reported to have created dummy submarines and fake tanks to distract Rommel's army. More recently, during the first Gulf War, Saddam deployed phony jets and Scuds for the sole purpose of misleading allied pilots on bombing raids.
So we can conclude that nothing about war is really new except for maybe one thing. If the illusion of fake weapons can be carried to include fake soldiers, why not carry the whole mirage even further by declaring and waging “fake wars?” Then no one will get hurt or need any weapons and everyone can go home and watch the evening news in a sort of peace!
M Dee Dubroff