Monday, June 22, 2009

Soviet HF-DF

During the Cold War, the Soviet Union built an extensive network of large circularly disposed antenna arrays (CDAAs) for high-frequency radio direction-finding and monitoring. The largest of these CDAAs were known in the West as the Krugs. These huge arrays were laid out on a circular pad 200-300 metres in diameter and consisted of a large vertical screen about 105 metres in diameter surrounded by 40 large monopoles distributed around a circle about 120 metres in diameter. A building at the centre of the array housed the monitoring equipment and intercept operators (see diagram).

The United States also built an extensive network of large Wullenweber arrays: 14 huge FRD-10 CDAAs for the U.S. Navy and eight even larger FLR-9 CDAAs for the Army and Air Force. Canada also built two FRD-10s, one at Masset and one at Gander. With the end of the Cold War, however, most of these arrays were dismantled. Only two FLR-9s remain in service, and the two Canadian FRD-10s are now the only ones left in the world. (More on the history of the FRD-10 here.) The U.S., Canada, and the other UKUSA allies also built a number of smaller CDAAs known as Pushers, many of which are still in service.

Like its FRD-10 and FLR-9 counterparts, much of the Soviet (now Russian) Krug network has been dismantled. Desmond Ball (Soviet Signals Intelligence (SIGINT), Australian National University, Canberra, 1989) reported in 1989 that some 30 Krug systems were then operational in the Soviet Union. Declassified U.S. documents subsequently identified 31 current and former Krug sites, all of which have been located on Google Earth. About two thirds of the sites are clearly no longer operational, and it is quite possible that many of the sites that look like they may be intact (in imagery sometimes many years old) are also no longer in service.

Some sites, including the Gatchina Krug site (also known as Verolantsy) near Saint Petersburg (see photo), are apparently still in use, however. The current Russian Krug network could include 10 or more active sites.

The Soviets also built a network of smaller Fix-24 CDAAs similar to the Pusher arrays, many of which are also no longer in service.

The Soviet Union used its Krug network to monitor and determine the location of Western HF radio transmissions, especially aircraft and ship transmissions. CDAAs are capable of determining the direction of arrival of a radio signal with a high degree of precision, and by triangulating the bearings taken on the same transmission by several different Krug stations the Soviets could plot the location of the transmitter fairly accurately.

Due to their remote locations, however, many of the Krug stations had to report the bearings they took by radio, and Western SIGINT stations were apparently able to monitor and exploit these transmissions in turn. (Western SIGINT stations also monitored the reports made by Soviet air surveillance radar stations and thus were able to track Soviet aircraft flying in Soviet airspace. This was one of the reasons NORAD was routinely able to intercept Soviet aircraft on training missions before they entered North American radar coverage. But that's a story for another day.)

Jerry Proc's CFS Masset page recounts an example of Western monitoring of the Krug network that reportedly made the rounds in the 1970s:
A Soviet Air Force bomber traveled to the Abbotsford BC International Air Show and sent position reports in CW back to their home base as they flew across Canada. During this flight, the Russian KRUG network was using the aircraft transmissions for check bearings and was reporting the bearings in tenths of a degree. Our backplotting of these bearings is said to have confirmed their accuracy.
I'm not sure I would trust the veracity of a bearing supposedly taken on an aircraft that was reporting its actual position, but the story does appear to confirm Western monitoring of the Krug network.

[Update 25 May 2012: Updated the section on the number and location of Krug sites to reflect continuing research.]

Monday, June 15, 2009

May CSE staff size

1672: The latest build-up has apparently begun.

(If you click through on the link and get a different figure, it's probably because the Canada Public Service Agency has updated its website; they update the numbers once a month.)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

UNDE's in a twist

The Union of National Defence Employees continues its heroic struggle to save union jobs preserve the security of the Dominion by stopping the public–private partnership plan (P3) for CSE's new headquarters: Who is putting security at risk at the Communications Security Establishment Canada? CSEC or PSAC?

Boy howdy, it's not often we get a demo in front of CSE headquarters! Down with the crypto-fascist surveillance complex! Smash the state! Stick it to The Man! What? It's not about that? Oh. Never mind...

I'm no fan of the recent fad for public–private partnerships (Let's bring a little of that good ol' market magic to government; it did such wonders for the economy!), and I consider myself a strong supporter of unions. But are we really supposed to believe that this is about national security? Granted, there may be some validity to UNDE's point about greater security risks in relying on lower-paid workers with high turnover rates. But we haven't heard any horror stories from GCHQ's experience with P3 workers... so far, anyway. And the case of Geoffrey Arthur Prime (or Ronald Pelton, William Weisband, William Martin and Bernon Mitchell...) demonstrates that the dedicated, long-serving public servant is no guarantee of security.

On the other hand, there has never been an espionage case involving a CSE employee (at least, as far as the public knows). That's a record that's hard to beat.

Anyway, UNDE has a model letter that you can send to our Political Masters if you want to join the Security Revolution.

I'm guessing that this and maybe some other issues are behind the hold up in CSE's latest (overdue) collective agreement. More industrial action mutterings on the way? Commentary on the previous agreement here.

Pics of the actual demo, as opposed to the image above, here.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

CSE in the news

Recent mentions in the news:

Stewart Bell, "Targeting Taliban bombs: Strategy Change; Military task force looks to stop leading killer of soldiers," National Post, 6 June 2009.

Michelle Shephard, Richard J. Brennan & Les Whittington, "The art of dealing with kidnappers: As more Canadians are abducted abroad, Ottawa forced to learn new skills at negotiating," Toronto Star, 25 April 2009.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

CFS Leitrim to expand

CFS Leitrim is going to be enlarged over coming years, according to this lede-burying story published two weeks ago (Patrick Dare, "City OK with rebuilding Leitrim Road for military, as long as government pays", Ottawa Citizen, 16 May 2009): "City officials were told at a recent meeting with DND that the station's expansion is planned over the next several years." The article reports that Leitrim "has been suggested as a site of a new operational command building, a project that has been estimated to cost more than $60 million." It is not clear whether this building represents the entire expansion project.

Why the headline about Leitrim Road? The project will apparently require rerouting of a 1.3-km stretch of Leitrim Road in a southward curve around the station "for security purposes", presumably an antiterrorism/force protection measure. The road work is expected to be done in 2010.

Other (or possibly related) work soon to be undertaken at Leitrim:
- Canadian Forces Station (CFS) Leitrim - Construction of West Entrance
- Canadian Forces Station Leitrim Electrical Distribution Upgrade