Russian army inflates itself with fake tanks

April 18th, 2009  

Topic: Russian army inflates itself with fake tanks

Security is not all about super modern technology and powerful weapons. The Russian Army is being equipped with dummies and decoys: inflatable tanks, planes and rocket launchers.

Even from a distance of only100 metres, fake military hardware looks exactly like the real thing and its effectively used on battlefield positions and to protect Russian strategic installations from the eagle eye of surveillance satellites.

Their main task is to distract attention and protect real combat units from strikes.

All fitted out to their natural size, the equipment thats intended to deceive the enemy is produced by Rusbal, a Research and Development enterprise in the Moscow region.

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Channel One reports its been three years since the Russian Army began purchasing military dummies. Initially, mock-up models were made of plywood, rubber or plastic. But in addition to being heavy, those dummies looked unnatural.

Rusbal designers came up with an idea to inflate tanks like air balloons. That the new dummies look very similar to real military hardware is by far not their only virtue.

Aleksandr Talanov, the plants Director General, told Channel One:

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.

The dummies irradiate warmth, making an impression of engines being warmed up and repel the radio waves of enemy radars as if they were real combat vehicles.

Moreover, to make the illusion more convincing a launcher, for example, can assume traveling or combat positions when photographed from air or from outer space.

Yury Stepanov, the enterprises laboratory chief explained:

In a real district, a tanks tower can be fixed more to the left or more to the right, so we show all these positions. There can be additional fuel tanks. The real vehicles can have them.

It takes an inflatable tank four minutes and a missile launcher five minutes to be set up on the battlefield.

Aleksandr Talanov said that his company plans to create models not only with radar but also with radio-technical bands to enable them to imitate radio traffic and the appearance of working radar aids.

Still, the best way to make this sham equipment look real to spy satellites and reconnaissance planes other than to send a group of soldiers to allegedly service this hardware: they can mount guards, carry out repairs and engage in training.

In a long-term perspective, Rusbal plans to create dummies of all military equipment that is in the service of the Russian army. Well, maybe except for inflatable soldiers.

Whether its moral or not, dummies have been used throughout world history as part of military deception.
April 18th, 2009  
A Can of Man
There already are inflatable soldiers. But I'd get banned if I posted them here. hehehe.
One of the oldest tricks in the book yet very effective.
April 18th, 2009  
major liability
I want an inflatable T-80 for my front yard.
April 18th, 2009  
That's quite the good idea.
April 18th, 2009  
they always did good dummies. east europe use to be full of them. the syrians use alot of dummies as well, espcially old T-34 and T-54...
April 19th, 2009  
-- Dusty
I'd love to have a few inflatable tanks.
April 19th, 2009  
WTMFI. Please never say that again..
April 22nd, 2009  
Originally Posted by the_13th_redneck
There already are inflatable soldiers.
What do you mean?

Fake models are very effective tactical method

Jasper Maskelyne (1902-1973) was a British stage magician in the 1930s and 1940s. He was a progeny of an established family of stage magicians, the son of Nevil Maskelyne and a grandson of John Nevil Maskelyne. He could also trace his ancestry to the royal astronomer Nevil Maskelyne. He is most remembered, however, for the accounts of his work for British Military Intelligence during World War II, creating ruses, deception and camouflage on a large-scale basis.

Wartime trickery
According to the autobiographical Magic: Top Secret and David Fisher's biography The War Magician (see below), Maskelyne's wartime career was as follows.

When World War II erupted, Maskelyne joined the Royal Engineers, thinking that his skills could be used in camouflage. He convinced skeptical officers by creating the illusion of a German warship on the Thames using mirrors and a model. He was eventually deployed to the African theater in the Western Desert, although he spent most of his time entertaining the troops. In January 1941, General Archibald Wavell created A Force for subterfuge and counterintelligence and Maskelyne was assigned to serve in it. Maskelyne gathered a group of 14 assistants, including an architect, art restorer, carpenter, chemist, electrical engineer, electrician, painter and stage-set builder, to help him. It was nicknamed the Magic Gang. The Magic Gang built a number of tricks. They used painted canvas and plywood to make jeeps look like tanks - with fake tank tracks - and tanks look like trucks. They created illusions of armies and battleships. His largest trick was to conceal Alexandria and the Suez Canal to misdirect German bombers. He built a mockup of the night-lights of Alexandria in an adjacent bay three miles away with fake buildings, lighthouse and anti-aircraft batteries. To mask the Suez Canal, he built a revolving cone of mirrors that created a wheel of spinning light nine miles wide. In 1942 he worked in Operation Bertram, prior to the battle of El Alamein. His task was to make German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel think that the attack was coming from the south, when British General Bernard Montgomery planned to attack from the north. In the north, 1000 tanks were disguised as trucks. On the south, the Magic Gang created 2000 fake tanks with convincing pyrotechnics. There was a fake railway line, fake radio conversations and fake sounds of construction. They also built a fake water pipeline and made it look as if it would never be ready before attack. Camouflage did contribute to the victory. After the battle, the Magic Gang was disbanded and although Winston Churchill praised his efforts, Maskelyne did not receive the appreciation he desired. After the war, Maskelyne tried to resume his stage career without much success. He moved to Kenya and founded a driving school. Jasper Maskelyne died in 1973.

Fake submarine

In 1941 the group took part in creation of a huge breadboard model of Alexandria (harbour, a beacon, antiaircraft batteries... The rest masked fires) in three miles before a city. German bombers dumped bombs, not reaching to the present port

April 22nd, 2009  
A Can of Man
It's unfortunate that such efforts didn't get the recognition deserved.... I think history itself is full of such incidents, especially if the person's skill was odd and mysterious.

Yeah it's nothing new but very effective. I don't think you quite got what I meant by "inflatable soldiers."
April 22nd, 2009  
The allies made extensive use of inflatable dummies throughout Great Britain during WWII.

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