Inflatable Jets and Maskirovka

A great piece in the New York Times describes the ongoing Russian psychological warfare practice of Maskirovka (literally “Disguise”), and how it has been used for hundreds of years, merely being updated to provide a bespoke approach to each individual conflict in which they have been involved.

As Andrew E Kramer tells us, this strategy is merely an larger-scale, upgrade of the traditional camouflage:

The idea behind maskirovka is to keep the enemy guessing, never admitting your true intentions, always denying your activities and using all means political and military to maintain an edge of surprise for your soldiers. The doctrine, military analysts say, is in this sense “multilevel.” It draws no distinction between disguising a soldier as a bush or a tree with green and patterned clothing, a lie of a sort, and high-level political disinformation and cunning evasions.

That’s gone from taking Prague Airport in 1968 via soldiers arriving on a scheduled Aeroflot flight from Moscow, through to alleged humanitarian convoys heading into Crimea and Syria more recently.

And now: inflatable jet planes:

deception1-master675 deception3-facebookjumbo-v2

Yep – that’s not a real MiG-31. It’s simply a MiG-31-shaped bouncy castle. But from space or from reconnaissance aircraft, it looks pretty much exactly the same as the real thing. In fact, here in the middle of this Russian field, it looks pretty convincing too. The idea being, of course, that enemy intelligence is fooled either by the positions or number of aircraft on the ground, prompting strategy based on incorrect information, prompting almost certain defeat (or something).

“If you study the major battles of history, you see that trickery wins every time,” Aleksei A. Komarov, the military engineer in charge of this sleight of hand, said with a sly smile. “Nobody ever wins honestly.”

And, ahead of the upcoming World War recently hinted at by crazy conspiracy sites and taken in, taken up and regurgitated by churnalists at even crazier tabloid newspapers, the Russian fake inflatable military equipment market is booming:

The company would not disclose how many inflatable tanks it made, because the numbers are classified, but Ms. Oparina said output had shot up over the past year. The contract forms one small part of Russia’s 10-year, $660 billion rearmament program that began in 2010. The factory now employs 80 people full time, most on the military side sewing inflatable weapons.

It’s a reminder that while we have the technology to spy on each other from hundreds of kilometres up, to guide bombs and missiles to targets with near pinpoint precision, there’s still a place in modern warfare for simple, basic tactics.

And they still work.

UPDATE: There’s actually a page on the Rusbal website where you can order these things.
“Price: negotiable”

So. Tempted…

Wee Day Out

Another Danny MacAskill video. And it’s every bit as all the other Danny MacAskill videos we’ve shared on here. Here’s Wee Day Out:

Some beautiful scenery, some memories from the music, and – following the edited version, some excellent and amusing outtakes.
Divine. Comedy.

Yep, even talent like that has to take a few goes at some of those stunts.

No justice

I read this earlier. And now I think I’m ready to share it.

I don’t feel that I can really do it justice by trying to describe it, so I’m not going to try. It’s just a beautiful piece of writing.

Give yourself 5 minutes, settle down and give it a go:

There Are No Wrong Numbers

Brilliant, Darrel Bristow-Bovey.
Thank you.

And then there was this…

The HELPFINDVIENNA story so far: here and here.


I wanted to provide pithy comment on this.

But I ran out of words.

I suspect you feel the same way now.

Let’s all do this – the power of positive thoughts are VERY POWERFUL!

Yes it are… they is… whatever.

Thanks, Wendy. Thanks.

The memories live on…

This is simply amazing.

Michael Spicer reads from what he describes as “the worst printing disaster in newspaper history”.
Here’s the “script”, and I’m leaving it deliberately large so that you can read along with Michael, simply by clicking the link below.


And here, as promised, is the link below:


I feel that I may never grow tired of this.