When Inflatables Meet the Military: Tanks, Jets & More

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Fake MissileThe Trojan Horse story is one of the most brilliant military stratagems in history. Although we are not entirely sure exactly what happened, the metaphor of the Trojan Horse as a military confidence trick has lasted for thousands of years and the idea of tricking opponents with illusions has not died off at all. In fact, a post in this blog some months ago referenced inflatable jets and tanks, which can be used to trick enemy sonar and radar. Russia was reportedly getting into the inflatable tank game, and now it looks like another country in Asia may be working on the same illusion.

According to Boston.com, North Korea has apparently released pictures of a new missile which might not be an actual missile at all:

“…what appears to be a new missile is displayed during a military parade at the Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the country’s founding father Kim Il Sung. Analysts say since the warhead’s surface is undulated, this suggests it’s a thin metal sheet unable to withstand flight pressure.”

The article says that these tactics have been used for centuries to show strength where there is none. In North Korea’s case, displaying this (allegedly) faux warhead is supposed to reflect the power of North Korea’s military program to enemies and allies alike. Inflatables have been used for this exact purpose, particularly during WWII, when a virtual army was created:

“Gen. George Patton had an oversized image to match his healthy ego, and Adolf Hitler was convinced he would be leading the invasion. So in a move dubbed “Operation Quicksilver,” the Allies constructed buildings and placed inflatable replicas of M4 Sherman tanks around southern England, suggesting a move on the Pas de Calais.”

It seems that the use of inflatables for something other than fun party activities – like an obstacle course race – will continue as long as there are battles to fight.