Duga 'Russian Woodpecker' Radar – Ivankivs'kyi district, Ukraine - Atlas Obscura

Duga 'Russian Woodpecker' Radar

This derelict superstructure was a very important warning system for the Soviet military. 


Duga is an enormous, now-abandoned antenna system built in the 1970s as part of a Soviet anti-ballistic missile early warning network. 

It is a huge lattice mega-structure with two antennas: the first first 150 meters high and 550 meters long, and the second 80 meters high and 220 meters long. To operate the radar system, a small secret city was built, in which 1,000 people lived.

The structure broadcast a sharp tapping sound which earned it the nickname “Russian Woodpecker.” It was such a powerful system that the sounds disrupted legitimate radio broadcasts and communications all over the world.

While many people worldwide had theories as to what was causing the noises, the source wasn’t confirmed until after the fall of the Soviet Union. The site at Chernobyl remained in operation after the disaster, but in 1987, most of the technical equipment was moved to a site at Komsomolsk na Amure.

Today, the mega-structure is still there, just a few miles south of the infamous Chernobyl reactor. There are plans to install wind turbines on it.

Know Before You Go

After the death of visitor who fell from the radar, all ladders were cut off, so climbing on the higher antenna is almost impossible.

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