The Amazing Inflatable U.S. Air Force F-16
Balloon fighter was a missile decoy
The U.S. Air Force has gotten pretty lax about defending its air bases and parked warplanes from aerial bombardment. But that wasn’t always the case, as RAND analyst Alan Vick explains in a new study. “In the late 1980s, the USAF developed inflatable decoy aircraft like the F-16 shown in [the photo below], but the Cold War ended before they were procured in numbers.”
The Air Force would have stationed the balloon F-16s around its airfields in Europe, hoping to draw Soviet attacks away from actual F-16s.
Inflatable decoys have a long history. They were especially popular during World War II. The Allies even propped up an entire inflatable army in England to distract the Germans from the real Normandy landing preparations.