As reported by high-ranking Ukrainian officials to the American media outlet The Washington Post, the kyiv Army is using mockups of wood missile systems sent by their Western allies to fool Russian defenses. The strategy is to lure Russian precision missiles to fictitious targets so that real systems can continue to operate.
The fleet of decoys imitates the himars system (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System) provided by the United States. The sophisticated American missile launcher is one of the main objectives of the Russian troops, since, since its entry into the war, it has considerably increased the range and versatility of the Ukrainian counteroffensive, allowing it to attack key logistics infrastructures in the development of the conflict.
“When the UAVs see the battery, it’s like a VIP target,” an anonymous Ukrainian official has claimed. According to the American newspaper, after initiating this tactic, typical of a asymmetric warfarethe decoys attracted at least 10 Kalibr cruise missiles, a success that would have prompted Ukraine to increase production of the imitations.
But, in addition to keeping the missile launcher batteries operational, the ruse would be causing counting errors Russian on recently destroyed Ukrainian war weapons. According to what was commented by a US diplomat, the Russian Army “has claimed to destroy more Himars systems than have been sent to the country.”
“If the Russians think they have hit a Himars, they will claim they have hit a Himars,” said George Barros, a military researcher at the Institute for the Study of War. “It is quite possible that the Russian forces are exaggerating your assessment battle damage after hitting Himars decoys.”
The use of replicas to deceive the enemy in armed conflicts is not so new. In fact, during World War II, there was a north american squad known as the “Ghost Army”, which used everything from fake insignia to life-size inflatable tanks to deceive Nazi units.
Thus, although a secondary role is assumed for artists in times of war, on this occasion they worked hard to transform the world conflict into a theater, arranging all kinds of ‘props’ on European soil. The unit was officially known as General Headquarters 23 Special Troops. They carried out nearly 20 operations between 1944 and 1945 and their existence remained secret until decades after the war ended.
More recently, Slobodan Milosevic’s Serbian troops used mock tanks and dummy targets against NATO forces during the Kosovo conflict. Today, the Ukrainian troops are imitating these practices to balance a initially unequal confrontation in terms of numbers.