Locations of Soviet SIGINT Sites Revealed
National Security Archive Fellow Matthew M. Aid recently wrote a blog post on the locations of several Soviet signals intelligence (SIGINT) stations. After finding the coordinates of six SIGINT stations in a declassified CIA document (a summary of a August 11, 1982 Top Secret Ruff study by the CIA’s National Photographic Interpretation Center), Aid shared these locations on his blog. Although several of these SIGINT stations are still active, the extent of their activity is unknown.
Best known of these sites was the massive Soviet SATCOM intercept station at Lourdes, Cuba, which was operated jointly by the KGB and the GRU. Construction of the Lourdes station began in 1975, and the station was declared operational in December 1976. As of 1990, the Lourdes station had grown to 2,100 KGB and GRU personnel, making it the largest Soviet SIGINT site outside of the Soviet Union.
So where were the other Soviet SATCOM SIGINT stations? A summary of a August 11, 1982 Top Secret Ruff study by the CIA’s National Photographic Interpretation Center (NPIC) identified the locations of six more of these large Soviet SIGINT stations, each of which had multiple large LOW EAR parabolic antennas used exclusively for intercepting communications satellite (COMSAT) radio transmissions.