Abandoned USAF troposcatter base in Sardinia, Italy - June 2021

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Jul 25, 2017
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4 Carlie #31

by Broken Window Theory

On the highest mountain massif in northern Sardinia, a formerly secret US military base is located. In the past, locals have told many rumors and stories about this place which have endured to this day. We are here to find out the truth. This is a place where the ghost of the Cold War is still present today. Join us as we travel back in time to declassify the past!

4 Carlie #02

by Broken Window Theory

What looks like you could make contact with extraterrestrials with it, is actually a relay station. Data was received here and then retransmitted to the next station far away. This allowed communication over long distances. It was put into service by the US Air Force in the 1960s - at a strategic location, directly in the center of the Mediterranean world. This was basically their main hub for controlling radio communications in that region.

4 Carlie #14

by Broken Window Theory

During the Cold War relaying information across countries safely and fast was crucial. A secret military project should make this happen. Together with NATO, the US had built a network of communication hubs across the global West that used new technology to connect each other. The keyword here is "troposcatter". Classified info like phone calls or other intel are transmitted with microwaves and beamed up into the air. They bounce off the so-called troposphere, which is the lowest part of our atmosphere - thus the name troposcatter. Back on Earth, the signal reaches a similar receiving site.

4 Carlie #06

by Broken Window Theory

Every hub used two sets of dishes - one for receiving, and one for broadcasting to the next one. This so-called "tropospheric scattering" has a huge advantage, which is also why it is partly used still today. For communicating, these stations do not need a line of sight. Since the signal bounces off the atmosphere, the hubs can be secluded or hidden in the mountains. They also can be hundreds of kilometers away from one another. But during the Cold War, there was also another massive benefit for the military: This technology was safe. Signals could only be received in one spot, so it was basically impossible to intercept.

4 Carlie #18

by Broken Window Theory

Allow us a brief digression: For more than 40 years, the Cold War raged between both superpowers, the Soviet Union and the US. Officially, this war was never declared, but that did not diminish its dangerous nature: Several times, the world came close to the brink of a nuclear abyss. So, NATO installed an internationally connected early warning system: A formerly top-secret long-range communications program. Code name: ACE-High. Dating back to the 1950s, this was basically a troposcatter network starting from the north of Europe, leading south all the way to Italy, then to Greece and Turkey - so, almost 7,000 kilometers along the border of the USSR were covered. To our understanding, the USAF base in Sardinia we are exploring here was not part of ACE-High but of another network. The idea was to use these systems to coordinate a counterstrike in the event of an attack. But since nuclear warfare never happened and the Cold War ended, these facilities became useless - and most of them have never undergone repurposing. There are several abandoned troposcatter bases today.

4 Carlie #03

by Broken Window Theory

For 30 years now, this military site has been lying idle. The last transmissions made by the large parabolic antennas were linked to the First Gulf War. But with the rise of satellite communication, the compound became outdated. The US sold the premises to the Italian Ministry of Defense. Then, in 2008, it was passed into civilian administration. But none of them had any plans for the site. So, today, it is just forgotten.

4 Carlie #19

by Broken Window Theory

4 Carlie #13

by Broken Window Theory

What remains are plundered buildings, flaking paint, and rust. Most of the rooms are completely stripped. You need quite an imagination today to find out the original purposes of the structures. Next to workshops and warehouses, there were sleeping quarters, a kitchen, bar, and cinema, but also a power plant. There are four marine diesel engines still left behind, probably used as power generators. According to a press release from half a decade ago, the municipality was thinking about re-naturalizing the whole area and restoring the original landscape - but opinions are still divided as to who should pay for it. Hazardous materials are among the debris that endangers the environment and would cost a fortune to remove. So, it is cheaper to just forget that this place even exists.

4 Carlie #33

by Broken Window Theory

And yet, this place was not completely forgotten. The antennas on top of the mountain were turned into one of Sardinia's most important broadcast transmitters for TV and radio. While only classified intel was sent from here in the past, today, everyone can receive the signals from the once top-secret military base. The Cold War is over - and relics like this help us to remember the times when the world came too close to the brink of a nuclear abyss. Let us learn from that past!

4 Carlie #01

by Broken Window Theory

If you want to see more of this abandoned USAF base just watch our YouTube documentary next:



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That is as excellent as ever, well reported

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