Russia has begun a major rearmament programme – stockpiling inflatable versions of its current planes, tanks and surface-to-air missiles in a bid to confuse satellites and aerial reconnaissance systems. At a cost of almost £2,000 per blow-up model, the move has drawn sharp criticism from military analysts who say the Kremlin should be investing in the real thing rather than blowing money on fakes.
“Inflatable military hardware is most effective in conflict situations when there is a need to confuse the enemy,” argued the daily Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper on Tuesday. “But at a time of peace, duping foreign intelligence networks with such expensive toys is a questionable luxury.”
According to Alexander Talanov, director of the scientific research centre that makes the rubber models, inflatable versions of the truck-mounted Soviet-era S-300 surface-to-air missile system (above) were particularly sought after by the Kremlin. While the number in production remains a state secret, the rubber missiles, which take only five minutes to inflate, are expected to be delivered by the end of next year.
Mr Talanov said the United States and China had invested in replicas of their own hardware (see tank, above right), and that the decoys could pass for the real thing from as little as 350 feet. Decoys were a common sight on military bases during World War Two and the Cold War, when opposing sides traditionally sought to lure the enemy away from operational fleets with redundant – but usually real – hardware.
(Images via English Russia)
Russia’s inflatable arms race comes as the country moves to upgrade 75 per cent of its military hardware by 2020. Ironically Russia’s vast military machine includes hundreds of redundant Cold War-era fighter and bomber aircraft, strewn across numerous semi-abandoned bases and literally rusting away on their original dispersals.
But out of date tanks, jets and other fighting vehicles will no longer fool sophisticated spy satellites on the lookout for Russia’s latest war machines. And with Russia’s ability to produce relatively low-cost, high performance hardware, this inflatable show of force may look fearsome from a few hundred feet but is definitely preferable to the real thing. (Sourced from the Telegraph. More pics of inflatable Russian hardware here.)
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