Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Ukraine Declares "Russian Woodpecker" Antenna Site a Cultural Monument

The Duga-1 radar antenna array near Chernobyl.

(Photo by Ingmar Runge via Wikimedia Commons,
CC BY 3.0, <https://commons.wikimedia.org/

The government of Ukraine has declared the massive Duga-1 antenna array near Chernobyl – the source of the infamous "Russian Woodpecker" over-the-horizon radar signals in the 1970s and 80s – as a protected cultural monument. According to the Vice online newsletter, the designation is part of an effort by Ukraine to get the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and surrounding buildings all declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In addition, the Association of Chernobyl Tour Operators reported that vandals were removing pieces of the huge structure and that added protection was needed.

For those too young to remember, the "woodpecker" was a Soviet-era early warning radar system built to detect incoming nuclear missiles from the United States. Its tapping signals caused havoc on the HF ham bands as they swept through the shortwave spectrum. Chernobyl, of course, is the site of the world's worst nuclear power disaster in 1986 and the Duga-1 array is within the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. It is speculated by some that the Chernobyl power plant was built primarily to provide electricity to the Duga radar.