The market for inflatable decoy military equipment is on the rise, according to a Czech company that makes fake tanks, guns, and aircraft.
After Russia invaded Ukraine last year, production of military decoys has increased more than 100%, according to Vojtech Fresser, who heads Inflatech Decoys.
The company has added inflatable HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System) to its fleet of more than 30 types of such decoys, he told reporters on Monday. And, he added, Russian forces may have been fooled into using ammunition against the realistic-looking balloons.
More than a third of the HIMARS units claimed to have been destroyed by Russian forces were actually inflatable decoys, Fresser said.
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The decoys are made from synthetic silk; and, apart from visually fooling the enemy, also can mimic thermal footprints well enough to “deceive even advanced surveillance systems,” the company notes.
Decoys have been used over the years by a number of countries, including the United Kingdom when fooling the Nazis in World War II.
The modern balloons are light enough to be carried by small groups of soldiers, and can be inflated between three and 30 minutes, depending on the shape, according to Inflatech. The decoys also are durable, and can be deployed and folded for at least 50 times, according to the company.
The decoys cost from $10,000 to $100,000.
But, Fresser said, the price is comparatively cheap.
“If you lead the enemy to destroy my piece of equipment by something that is four, or maybe 20 times more expensive, then you are winning economically,” Fresser said.