OTH coverage for Europe

Typical over-the-horizon radars use many spaced antennas and achieve thousands of km range, but at the price of several hundred km minimum range. The Australian and American ones are apparently looking into certain directions, while the French have deployed an experimental one for 360° surveillance (and research). It's a skywave OTH radar.*


I cannot tell how much of a technical success NOSTRADAMUS is, so this blog post is all built on the assumption that it's a thorough technical success and thus justifies its expenses.

It's nice of the French to build such a radar, but it appears to be unable to detect and track much or anything over France or its coastal regions. It's furthermore questionable how reliable detection and tracking are close to its maximum range. It's certainly dependent on atmospheric conditions.

An overlapping OTH line operated by NATO might make a lot of sense. Two more NOSTRADAMUSesque radars would likely suffice; one on Iceland and one in Southern continental Greece or in Southern Croatia.

The three OTH radars could operate in coordination, avoiding interference.

Such a radar coverage in the HF band might prove very troublesome to Russian war planners particularly in surprise air attack scenarios, and thus add a lot to European deterrence.


*: Surface wave OTH radars have a very disadvantageous limitation; they cannot detect aircraft at high altitudes (they're still good for tracking maritime traffic).


  1. I know I'm a pessimist but a tiny number of these things at fixed sites in known locations isn't going to make for a survivable capability. For peacetime surveillance it's got great potential. Once a peer conflict kicked off in Europe it would last hours at most.

    1. Such installations are not survivable against nukes, but the antennas themselves are difficult to cut down. The best tool would be continuous rod warheads impacting vertically. You would need lots of those, and very far from potentially hostile ground.
      The key equipment and control centre can be hardened and aren't more vulnerable than typical airbase infrastructure.

      It's much easier to jam the signal. That's where the real limitation is likely at. OTH radars such as this one are rather relevant for peacetime and especially times of crisis, not so much times of war.

  2. If you look at the video there appears to be a three axis tunnel or structure that looks pretty vulnerable and is presumably co-located with the antennae. You can see it here: https://youtu.be/UDnPS6U5JX4?t=157

    1. From the paper "The antennas are randomly distributed on 80 meters width along the arms."

      Clearly there is at least some freedom in how far down the tunnel is, and 70 m of dirt and reinforced concrete seems quite enough to make the tunnel count as "robust".