Learning different maps to find this military object Duga you’ll probably see the designations of children camp or dotted lines of the forest roads on the site of the city, but for sure not the reference to urban and technical buildings. There in the Soviet Union they knew how to keep a secret, especially if this secret was the military one.
In 1970th soviet scientists developed radar system that allowed detecting ballistic missile launches even on another edge of the Earth. The system was even called so: over-the-horizon (OTH) radar system. It was decided to built the first part of this system (it should have been built a network of such stations) – “Duga” – in Chernobyl Woodland. One of the biggest advantages of this place was the proximity of the nuclear power station, as the “super radar” had to use up to 10 megawatts of electricity. It is known that the cost of building of this heavy-duty radar was 2 times more expensive than the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant itself.
Duga-3 (Chernobyl 2) – a unique miracle of the engineer thought, having no analogues in the world, — covered almost the all planet with its signal and could in a moment detect start of the ballistic rockets from any continent.
According to the satellite images, the length of the low-frequency antenna of the radar system was 460 meters, height — almost 150. High-frequency antenna’s length was 230 meters and height – 100. For servicing Radar Duga there was built a small town Chernobyl-2 with around 1000 citizen. Chernobyl 2 had the full infrastructure to living – kindergarten, school, hospital etc. As it was top secret, so even the city was named like Chernobyl to avoid too many questions.
On May 31, 1982, Duga was put into trial operation. Immediately after this the problems began… When Duga station was enabled (“on the air”) almost all over the world began to sound characteristic knock, that muffled HF transmitters and even phone calls. Despite the top-secret facility, the Europeans pretty quickly got how the wind blows. They have called Duga «Russian Woodpecker» and submitted claims to the Soviet government
It’s clear that Soviet government didn’t stop the secret military espionage, but made everything to eliminate the defects in the radar system. And in the 1985 everything was done. But here the Chernobyl tragedy happened. Duga was promptly removed from alert status, all equipment was urgently conserved, and the staff with their families evacuated from Chernobyl-2 – the zone of radioactive contamination.
In 1987 all valuable equipment had been taken in Komsomolsk-on-Amur. Chernobyl-2 became abandoned; however, antennas of the famous radar system Duga stay here to this days as a reminder of the former power of the superpower state USSR.