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How Ukraine used fake tanks and fake guns to confuse the Russians

fROM With the sackcloth-stuffed Trojan horses known as “Ruperts” dropped on D-Day to confuse the Germans, deception in warfare is as old as war itself. As weapon technology evolves, so must cunning plans to undercut its advantages. Drones are making the Ukrainian battlefield very visible; enter the dummies.

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After the tank was invented in World War I, spoof toys made of painted burlap were spread over wooden frames to distract and confuse.In Ukraine, the Russians claim to have achieved several precision Haimas The US first provided rocket launchers last June; Ukrainians say no one has been killed on the battlefield.Somewhere in the diff is a small group of replicas Haimasa wooden model mounted on a heavy truck, rolling along a dirt track behind the front line.

“You have to understand that this is a battle of innovation,” said Anton Gerashchenko, a Ukrainian government adviser. “Drones and satellites are more advanced and can see more detailed information. It’s harder to fool an enemy with cameras and live video. But high-quality decoys can do a good job.”

In the past, Ukrainian military decoy efforts have been somewhat ad hoc, with amateurs piecing pieces together. “Let’s call it a handicraft,” says Andrii Rymaruk, Director of Military Affairs, Come Back Alive, non-governmental organization It has been at the forefront of supplying Ukrainian soldiers since the war in Donbass began in 2014. Since 2018, Come Back Alive has been working on a prototype of the inflatable, the kind typically used by the military during training exercises. Prior to the invasion, senior officials were unimpressed. “The army said, ‘We don’t need it,'” Mr Rymaruk said.

Inflatable dummies have several advantages. Wooden models are heavy and bulky and consist of several parts. They needed a vehicle to transport them and a team to assemble and dismantle the folding wooden frames. Engineers at Inflatech, a Czech company that specializes in Soviet and Chinese inflatable weapons, say the inflators are sewn from nylon fabric, are cheaper to manufacture, may be light enough to carry in a backpack, and “deploy very quickly “. “Plug in the blower, and ten minutes later it’s a tank.”

Tanks, field guns, mortars, machine guns; just about any piece of military equipment can be replicated in inflatable form.Russians, supposed to be masters maskirovkaThe art of military camouflage and subterfuge, There are balloon factories that make inflatables, including fighter jets that can be parked in rows that look like busy air force bases. There were some issues with reconstructing protruding slender parts of equipment, such as antennas on radar systems. “Like a tank gun was too long and the pressure wasn’t that great, so we had to use some aluminum tubes for support,” explains an Inflatech engineer. Demand is on the rise; Inflatech’s orders are up 30 percent since the start of the war in Ukraine.

At the same time, dummies are becoming more realistic. The collapsible wooden replica tank is so detailed and lifelike that “even from five meters away, you can’t tell it’s fake,” Gerashchenko said. Trucks can drive across fields to create tank tracks and broadcast traffic to create military positions impression. Inflatech uses flexible reflectors to simulate the heat of a freshly fired gun to fool thermal imaging cameras on drones. Despite being filled with air, the dummy must be able to generate a valid radar signature. “We’re making a lot of technical improvements, but I don’t want to share them right now,” Mr Rymaruk said.

Dummies can be effective against the threat of Russian Lancet drones that are currently taking out Ukrainian artillery. “The Lancet drone is our most dangerous drone,” Mr Gerashchenko said. “It has a range of 40 kilometers and can carry 3 kilograms of explosives. Very useful for destroying artillery.” A Lancet drone made in Russia can cost less than $50,000; an American M777 The howitzers currently used by the Ukrainians cost close to $4 million. “If your enemy sees you on the battlefield, not only are you dead,” Mr. Glashenko said, “but the cost is very high.” On the other hand, Mr. Rymaruk said, if you can convince the Russians to waste resources shooting Fake, “You’re just draining the enemy financially.”

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