Military Deception – Russia’s Inflatable Army of ‘Bouncy Castles’

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Deception plays a major role in military operations even in the 21st century. All major powers engage in tactics and techniques to fool their enemies into thinking their forces are larger or more effective, and in places they may not be. In Russia, Maskirovka is the doctrine of strategic and tactical deception to confuse the enemy and distort his perception and influence his decision making.

One proven technique to achieve this is the inflatable army.

recent piece in Oddity Central describes in detail Russia’s inflatable forces, which it jokingly calls military “bouncy castles.”

See video below:

Russia’s inflatable army is built by RusBal – initially, a simple balloon company founded in 1993 by a hot air balloon enthusiast. It originally focused on hot air balloons and children’s bounce houses, but “now specializes in inflatable replicas of various war machines used by the Russian military.”

Oddity Central notes that RusBal’s “creations range from life-size replicas of rocket launchers, tanks and fighter jets, to inflatable military tents and even radar stations.”

See video below:

RusBal is also developing accessories to make its inflatables more realistic. “For example,” notes Oddity Central, “the company sells a device designed to create tank tracks to make its inflatable tanks deployed in the middle of barren fields less suspicious.”

Based on a 2010 BBC report, RusBal’s inflatable creations are reportedly “made of a special material that tricks enemy radar and thermal imaging into thinking they are real weapons.” Whether this material can still fool the sophisticated sensors of today’s U.S. or NATO forces for long, is an open question.

However, in any conflict simply buying time can make the difference between victory and defeat. By delaying a response while U.S. and NATO forces confirm or deny they are real, these Russian military “bouncy castles” could allow Russian forces time to achieve their objectives elsewhere.

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Paul Crespo

Paul Crespo is the Managing Editor of American Defense News. A defense and national security expert, he served as a Marine Corps officer and as a military attaché with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) at US embassies worldwide. Paul holds degrees from Georgetown, London, and Cambridge Universities. He is also CEO of SPECTRE Global Risk, a security advisory firm, and President of the Center for American Defense Studies, a national security think tank.

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tractor man
tractor man
2 months ago

Good luck with an air bag providing a heat signature equal to the real thing.

tracker1
tracker1
2 months ago
Reply to  tractor man

Not that hard to do if coated with metalic paint

Craig Murphy
Craig Murphy
2 months ago

Patton’s mythical 1st Army was made of inflatables in Spring of 1944. Helped tie up the Germans at the Pas de Calais while Allies were 150 miles south invading Normandy. German reconnaisance flights were deceived.


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