Matthew Aid – Changji: China’s Biggest SIGINT Site

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I have spent the last two days going over the latest satellite imagery for a huge Chinese signals intelligence (SIGINT) out in western China, which is located eight miles east of the nondescript city of Changji and about five miles north of the provincial capital of Urumqi. Tis a dustbowl of a place, but one filled with history.

The Changji station, which I listed in my recent list of Chinese SIGINT stations, is intriguing for a number of reasons. When the CIA’s National Photographic Interpretation Center (NPIC) issued a report on the site back in 1984, there were only three parabolic satelite dish antennas on he station and a brand new operations building.

Today, there are 25 satellite dishes (none in radomes) on the station, and there ar now two separate and distinct intercept stations within the confines of the post, both of whom are intercepting communications traffic passing through U.S., Russian, and intrnational communications satellites parked in geosynchronous orbit 22,000 miles above the earth. This is a monster of a station. With 25 intercept antennas, the station can cover pretty much all of the major INTELSAT, ARABSAT etc. communications satellites parked over the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific orbital stations. If you want to take a gander at the station’s two main SATCOM intercept operations centers, see here for a site I have arbitrarily dersignated Changji #1, and here for Changji #2. There is also a big circularly-displayed antenna array (CDAA) just north of the station proper, which you can see here.