Drone photos of the USSR’s nuclear detection system

Drone photos of the USSR’s giant nuclear detection system

Check out these amazing drone photos of the USSR’s nuclear detection system. These aerial photos from Arkadiusz Podniesiński, a Polish photographer and filmmaker, not only look amazing but the story behind the photos is quire cool too.

USSR’s nuclear detection system captured by drone

Arkadiusz Podniesiński writes for PetaPixel:

The DUGA over-the-horizon radar was one of the most important elements of the early warning system against an American nuclear attack on the USSR. More expensive to build than the nearby nuclear power plant, the complex consisted of two massive sets of receiving antennas located in Chernobyl and one transmission unit—which no longer exists—60km away in the town of Lubeck. The task of the radar was to detect the flight of ballistic missiles carrying nuclear warheads, which would allow for a rapid retaliatory attack before the US bombs could reach their intended target. The whole complex was closely guarded, and its existence kept secret.

The small town of Chernobyl-2 was constructed to serve the approximately 1,000 workers and their families and had all the necessary infrastructure: a school, kindergarten, hotel, cinema and even a sports field. Due to the fact that the USSR kept its military secrets, it is not known if the radar was effective or whether it contributed to the country’s defenses during the Cold War. It is known, however, that it stopped working as a result of the radiation from the Chernobyl disaster and was soon closed.

More than 30 years later, the antenna is still one of the largest constructions of its type in the world and a true masterpiece of mechanical engineering. It towers majestically over the entire area and is visible from a distance of dozens of kilometers. When I climbed to the top of DUGA nearly 10 years ago, I was probably the first to do so since the disaster. At that time, the entire complex was closed and closely guarded, so it was not an easy task.

When I took the first aerial photographs of the antenna 8 years ago, I had to use a helicopter, a real Soviet Mi-2. Today, a drone is enough. I tried many times until I finally succeeded. The weather was perfect: the clouds were thick and low enough. You only have to climb to the top of the antenna and start from there, then land. It’s not easy, since at the top there are usually very strong winds and there is very little space. All of this done to avoid getting the lens wet when flying through the clouds, which would have destroyed all my efforts.

P.P.S. For anyone interested in the extraordinary history of the radar, check out this report from one of my previous trips where you will find more information and photographs.

You can read the entire story here.

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