Duga Radar

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The Duga Radar Array (Russian: Дуга) or Arch near Chernobyl was part of a Soviet Over-The-Horizon (OTH) radar used to detect early Intercontinental Anti Ballistic Missile (ICBM) launches. The radar was built in 1976 and operated till the fall of the Soviet Union. The Radar was built near Chernobyl because it’s high power demand of 10MegaWatts. The cost of the radar system was about 2 billion roeble (twice the cost of the Chernobyl Nuclear Powerplant).

With it’s hight of 160 meters and width of 660 meters it’s much bigger than the Eiffel Tower!


The detection system used a frequecy of 10Hz which was heard by radio amateurs all over the world. Because this sharp tone it was also called the Russian Woodpecker.

Because of the power of the signal it did broadcast, it disrupted legitimate radio signals all over the world. Thousands of complaints were coming from aviation, television stations and utility transmissions. As a result, some manufacturers of radio equipment were integrating “Woodpecker Blankers” in their cirquits to filter the signal.

Many people speculated about the signal. Some thought it was used by the Russians to brainwash people. Other thought it was for manipulating the weather. Because it’s frequency radio amateurs realized that this had to be an OTH radar system.

NATO had given it the name STEEL WORK or STEEL YARD. Existence was denied during the cold war. After the fall of the Soviet Union it was recognized by NATO as a ABM early detection system.

During the 60’s the Russian satellites were not capable enough to detect the launch of missiles. As satellites began to evolve there were questions that enemy anti satellite systems could take these offline. An OTH system was not vulnerable to this.The radars used at that moment were all in the line-of-sight.

The Duga radar could detect launches all over the world in seconds so these could be examined and a counter attack could begin.

In 1989 the signal was not detected anymore. Probably due to the fall of the USSR and the evolvement of better satellite systems.

The government want’s to break down the radar. In normal circumstances this would be done with explosives Due to the nearby nuclear power plant the government of Ukraine is afraid of vibrations of falling down such a big structure will will damage the reactor building. Deadly radiation would escape again.

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