Categories: ·

Duga-1 Radar – The Russian Woodpecker


Duga-1 is one of the three Soviet ‘over the horizon’ radar stations. They started to build the Radar station close to the military town Chernobyl-2 in 1970. The site was code named ‘5H32-West’ by the Soviets.

Duga was a Soviet over-the-horizon, or OTH radar system used as part of the Soviet ABM early-warning network. The system operated from July 1976 to December 1989.

The Duga-1 consisted of two sites, Chernobyl-2 and Liubech-1, not far from the town of Chernihiv. The two transmitting antennas were located in Liubech and the two receiving antennas, here, in Chernobyl-2. 

Because of different ways of counting the installations and the secrecy that surrounded them the radar is quite frequently, but incorrectly, referred to as Duga-3, when in fact Duga-3 was never constructed.

Russian Woodpecker

The Duga systems were extremely powerful, over 10 MW in some cases. It broadcasted in the shortwave radio bands. They appeared without warning, sounding like a sharp, repetitive tapping noise at 10 Hz, which led to it being nicknamed by shortwave listeners the ‘Russian Woodpecker’. The random frequency hops disrupted legitimate broadcast, amateur radio, commercial aviation communications, utility transmissions, and resulted in thousands of complaints by many countries worldwide. The signal became such a nuisance that some receivers such as amateur radios and televisions actually began including ‘Woodpecker Blankers’ in their design.

The unclaimed signal was a source for much speculation, giving rise to theories such as Soviet mind control and weather control experiments. However, many experts and amateur radio hobbyists quickly realized it to be an over-the-horizon radar system. NATO military intelligence had already photographed the system and given it the NATO reporting name Steel Yard. This theory was publicly confirmed after the fall of the Soviet Union.

See my report of the abandoned military town, Chernobyl-2 here. I visited the site in 2014 and 2015. You can find more reports on the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone on my other website:

Built 1970
Abandoned 1992