Losing a tank or valued US-made high mobility artillery rocket systems (HIMARS) can hurt an army less if the weapon is a cheap inflatable decoy placed on the front lines to deceive the enemy.
With the war in Ukraine boosting the need for heavy military vehicles, guns and planes, it has also been a boon to Inflatech Decoys, a Czech maker of fake army equipment.
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The company has added HIMARS to its fleet of more than 30 types of inflatable real-size decoys it sells to customers worldwide, Chief Executive Vojtech Fresser said.
Inflatech would not confirm Ukraine is among the destinations, but Fresser said he would expect them to find their way there.
“I can imagine that if we want to support a partner country which is in trouble, we will send them Inflatech inflatable decoys and they are already there or certainly will be,” he said.
The defence ministry, which helps organise Czech military supplies to Ukraine, was not immediately available for comment.
The decoys are made out of synthetic silk and, apart from misleading the adversary visually, have a thermal footprint and appear on radars to fool enemy reconnaissance.
They pack into sacks that two to four soldiers can carry, and can be inflated within 10 minutes.
The HIMARS inflatable top, without the heat generator and compressor equipment, weighs 43kg, Fresser told reporters at the company’s factory in the northern Czech city of Decin.
The decoys cost from $10,000 to $100,000.
“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.
Inflatech has seen its business boom over the past year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, raising production to dozens of decoys per month, and sees big growth this year – in tens and maybe more than 100 percent, Fresser said.