Remember the Cold War? Those glorious years when at least we knew who was pointing nuclear missiles at us? We built tanks, fighters, bombers, helicopters and missiles by the thousands, while we waited for the inevitable Soviet invasion of Western Europe. Ironically, the Soviets did the same thing, waiting for us to knock on their door from the West. Sanity ultimately prevailed, and by the time the Berlin Wall came down in 1991 it was Capitalism 1, Communism 0. The great global third world war in Europe had been averted, or at least delayed for the foreseeable future.
Back in those Cold War days, both sides had plenty of money to spend on military build-up, or so it seemed. When you’re expecting an invasion of your NATO or Warsaw Pact allies, you want to make sure you bring enough toys to the party; the first rule of any gunfight is, after all, bring enough guns. Now that the Cold War arms build up is a thing of the past, neither the United States nor Russia has the funds to continue building and stockpiling weapons we don’t need. We’re bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Russian bear isn’t the threat it once was. Russia no longer worries about NATO, but their neighbor to the East gives them the occasional sleepless night. It’s unlikely China would want to invade Russia, but if they did Russia would need all the armament it could muster. The trick is convincing a potential opponent that you’re better prepared than you actually are; how can you do this on a limited budget, and withing the scope of current arms control treaties?
Inflatables, just like the Allies used against Germany in WWII. Sure we all have better technology now, and an old-fashioned inflatable won’t give a convincing radar signature or thermal signature. That’s where Russia’s latest generation of inflatable decoy weaponry comes in. Constructed by a former hot air balloon manufacturer, the new decoy weapons produce a realistic thermal signature and a realistic radar image. They can be deployed by as few as two handlers in a mater of minutes, and fold down into large duffel bags for easy transport when not in use.
Russia’s built decoys of most of their modern arsenal, including tanks, fighter jets, missile launchers, rocket launchers and even portable radar stations. They’re obviously not functional, but they serve a purpose: if your opponent thinks you’re better armed then you actually are, perhaps they’ll think twice before instigating a fight. If they do decide to press their luck, losing a field full of inflatable decoys is a whole lot more palatable than losing a field full of armor. Let’s hope we never get to find out how effective they are.