Academic project used commercial software marketing data to help monitor Russian military missile site

Aug. 4, 2020
Trackers weren't intelligence analysts, but were academic researchers at Mississippi State University using a commercially available software program.

WASHINGTON – In 2019, a group of Americans was using commercial software to observe the cell phone signals coming from military sites across Eastern Europe. The Wall Street Journal reports. Continue reading original article

The Military & Aerospace Electronics take:

4 Aug. 2020 -- At one of the locations, the Nyonoksa Missile Test Site in northern Russia, the group identified 48 mobile devices present on Aug. 9, one day after a mysterious radiation spike at the Russian missile site generated international headlines and widespread speculation that a Russian missile test had gone wrong.

The Americans were able to track the movements of those devices over time. One went to the Paradisus Varadero Resort and Spa in Varadero, Cuba, for nine days. Others scattered across the country—going to the Russian cities of St. Petersburg and Moscow or to secure Russian military districts in Severodvinsk and Archangel. One went to Ganja, Azerbaijan, which runs along a strategic overland trade corridor between Asia and Europe.

The trackers weren’t professional intelligence analysts with access to secret intercepts. Rather, they were a team of academic researchers in Starkville, Miss., working with their graduate research assistants and undergraduate interns on the campus of Mississippi State University, using a commercial software program.

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John Keller, chief editor
Military & Aerospace Electronics

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