Thirty-first edition of the N&O column / Spooks newsletter

(Date: Sat, 02 Dec 2000 00:22:16 +0100)

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Intelligence news

Shortwave monitoring facility in Chechnya

The following information appeared on the web site of Russian news agency Agentstvo Voyennykh Novostey on 1st November.

Vladimir Vernigora, the technical director and chief engineer of the Federal State Unitary Enterprise, the "Gradient" All-Russian Scientific Research Institute, informed AVN about the Russian monitoring facility in Chechenya. He stated that this facility was used successfully in Groznyy in the Argun gorge, in Novolaksk and other regions of Chechnya. The station can determe in real time the frequency, azimuth and location angle of a radio transmission source. The facility consists of three SOP-K (shortwave) automated stations for detecting and taking bearings on communication system signals and a TSU-K central station for control and determination of the location of radio transmission sources. Each station has its autonomous power supply and is housed in two cargo vans on KamAZ vehicles. The complex operates in the 1.5-30 MHz frequency range, with 360 degree bearing coverage. The facility's range is up to 3,000 km.

Belgian spy

The Belgian embassy in Tehran says it has been informed about a Belgian national who was arrested for spying in Iran.

High power transmissions

In the 70's, somewhere in the UKRAINE, experiments were performed using three 1000 kW transmitters in parallel. The antenna consisted of 13 vertical towers in the shape of a parabola (as viewed from a airplane), various folded dipoles are strung between all these towers, it also had a very narrow bandwidth (ca 3 MHz), and a very narrow beamwidth (aprox 5-10 degrees). The result of this was the gain they obtained from this antenna was a staggering 38 dB !. The reference signal they used it against was a 1000 kW transmitter with a 20 dB curtain antenna. The test signal was directed to the Washington/New York area.

What happened was as follows. It started at 1000 kW, and they increased tx power and monitored rx signal strength in Washington. As the test tx power approached 2000 kW they found that the received signal strength started to decrease. At 3000 kW the received signal was almost gone, but why ? Radio Iosonde sounders and satellites were then dispatched to analyse the signal. What they found was surprising. At 3000 kW and 38 dB of antenna gain the tx signal was of such power that it was heating up a spot in the ionosphere but instead of creating a solid area of reflection they discovered they were actually burning a hole in the ionosphere and the signal was being shot off into space. They also noticed that in the area of the ionospheric hole had an effect on approaching weather fronts. The weather fronts were being deflected around the ionospheric heated area, inadvertent weather modification. So they reduced the power, received signal strength improved, but not much over the reference signal. They experienced lots of fading especially when the ionosphere was unstable, that the solar winds would push & pull at this heated up areas of the ionosphere and moved it around. They did however notice that as the ionospheric hole decreased in size, they were also able to transmit a 2nd signal beamed to the same spot at much higher than the MUF and HPF, however the received signal was very unstable, because of the lack of symmetry and alignment in due the number of hops. This method has been used before, but just for one hop. The parabolic antenna was modified to a wider beamwidth (aprox 30 degrees) and the frequency range was expanded to 5.5-22.0 MHz. The result of this was a drop in gain to 29 dB, which is still fantastic. The high power tx program was cancelled, and soon after many of the engineers were laid off, but aprox 20-30 were provided safe passage our of the Ukrainian SSR and ended up in Alaska working on the US HAARP project.

(Rick Slobodian-CAN via Olle Alm-SWE via Bernd Trutenau-LTU via Andreas, 21 November 2000)

See also Newsletter 42.

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