Contayner Over-The-Horizon Radar site polluting the HF spectrum

OTH radar Contayner on 7062 and 7103 kHz on 21 Oct. at 1847 UTC (Source: IARU Region 1 Newsletter)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Paul Evans, who writes:

The news from IARU Region 1 observer reports is all over the radio internet (including news sites and other blogs), but the extent of this [Russian] OTHR is grim. [Click here to read a recent ARRL News post.]

It is also entering service on a full-time basis, along with, potentially, a similar Chinese system.

Yes, it has been in testing for many years but is approaching multiple site use, soon. As the sunspot cycle comes back they may prove to be very limiting.

The antenna picture (for the transmit site) is impressive:

(although I think that is of the old Woodpecker site, the Google Maps street view image looks somewhat different, see below).

However, it’s not so huge that it really stands out. It can be seen here:

in satellite view and can even be seen in street view here:

Note that the magic number in the phased arrays seems to be 9.

Rather worrying is that the UK continues to run, over many years now, OTHR from sovereign bases (ZC4) in Cyprus rather obviously aimed at use in Syria and Libya for use with the RAF and for Russian air space. It too can be seen on the salt marshes in the south of the island. As an active system it seems to be rather more cloaked than the Russian system, although there are some 360 degree images in Google Maps that show the towers. This was extremely annoying on the bands when the last solar cycle was near maximum from Bermuda because it was right in the main lobe when a Yagi was pointed towards Europe and was very loud. It was considerably narrower than the Russian system but occupied a solid chunk of band.

Paul, thank you for bringing this to our attention. I have seen chatter about the QRM this particular Russian OTH Radar site has created, but it seems other countries will soon be joining the OTHR QRM scene as well.

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6 thoughts on “Contayner Over-The-Horizon Radar site polluting the HF spectrum

  1. Jake Brodsky, AB3A

    We’re not going to get these monsters to confine themselves to specific radio spectrum patches because that would make a jammer’s job too easy.

    However, it might be interesting to see if one could detect some forward or back-scatter, by comparing widely spaced SDR receivers. In other words, use the radar “search-light” to see what they’re looking for and where.

  2. Pekka J. Poutiainen

    Late 1982 I´d raported to Radio Sweden Calling Dxers programme that Finnish YLE had tested night time OTH Radar on the mediumwave band 540 kHz !!! That happened just a 5 kilometers next to us on my hometown Oulu, Finland.

  3. DanH

    Yes, I have noticed more and more OTHR on HF during the last year. The operators have no qualms about jamming the shortwave broadcast bands with this garbage. A year ago they seemed to avoid occupied frequencies but that isn’t the case any more. The easiest way find OTHR is with the wideband visual display of an SDR but it may be heard just as well on any shortwave radio.

    There may be a bright side of OTHR for SWLs. If you find OTHR is most active on one particular HF band you may be certain that band is the best choice for long distance propagation. Assuming of course, that the station you want to hear hasn’t been obliterated by this pesky radar.

    1. Mangosman

      Over the horizon radar is attractive to countries with large land areas. So not only the Russians use it as does Australia. The Australian system is called Jindalee Operational Radar Network


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