En Notas

Even if the English radar in Tierra del Fuego is turned off, it could be working

The Ministry of Defense asks to cut Internet and electricity connections.

4 de August de 2023 03:19

It has the potential to be configured as a strategic target in the event of an extraterritorial military conflict, taking Tolhuin from maximum tranquility to the highest level of risk.

This Wednesday the 2nd; one day after the note sent by the Minister of Defense Jorge Taiana to the Chief of Staff of Ministers Agustín Rossi was known, requesting “the cancellation and definitive suspension of the installation” of the LeoLabs Argentina SRL radar, in the town of Tolhuin, “ for violating national security and being incompatible with the National Defense Policy Directive”; became public on   complete 23-page report , prepared by INVAP , the National Commission for Space Activities (CONAE), the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Armed Forces , the National Directorate of Defense Material Comptroller and the National Directorate of Military Strategic Intelligence.

A unique and lapidary document , which exposes the main national organizations and the province of Tierra del Fuego, involved in attacking national sovereignty and the defense system of the Nation, in favor of British and NATO interests.


  1 - The installation of the radar was carried out in a strategic location for our country. Sovereignty and national defense are concepts inseparable from space activity. It is not possible to ignore the geopolitical connotations of the installation (…) by a company with legal domicile in Great Britain, when the United Kingdom supports the illegal occupation of the Malvinas Islands, part of our national territory.

2 - This constitutes a violation of national security , since the Station would allow the United Kingdom to:

● Provide early warning and Space Situational Awareness in low orbit in Argentina.Meaning that Great Britain, from our own national territory, will be able to monitor Argentine satellite activity, both civil and military.

Intercept data and observe land and maritime targets or detect Argentine aircraft, since the radar operates in the same band in which the transmission and reception earth stations of Argentine satellites operate.

Monitor satellite trajectories and launches through the Tronador launcher that our country is developing from CONAE .

3 - The National Defense Policy Directive, in its capacity as a top-level document, which describes the international scenario; imposes the mission on the military instrument and creates the guidelines that it must follow to fulfill that mission, establishing that “(…) the persistent military, illegitimate and illegal presence of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia , South Sandwich and the corresponding maritime and island areas; It forces us to take appropriate measures for capacity planning, deployment and organization by our Defense system.”

4 - In order to guarantee the vital interests of the Nation, the necessary mechanisms for control, surveillance, recognition and production of strategic military intelligence in aerospace, maritime, terrestrial and cyberspace spaces must be provided for and maintained.

5 - The installation of the radar by LeoLabs Argentina SRL, a company formed by British capital, is totally incompatible with the military mission given by the President of the Nation to the Armed Forces.

6 -   The radar sensors have the capacity for dual use . They are primary radars capable of tracking non-collaborative (enemy) targets, suitable for the identification of space debris, but also suitable for tracking military satellites of third states, intercontinental ballistic missiles, hypersonic missiles and even aircraft . Therefore , the Station has the potential to be configured as a strategic target in the event of an extraterritorial military conflict . From its own website it is clear that it is the main global company providing services such as:

● Monitoring and situational awareness of military utility (LeoGuard)

● Monitoring the orbital position of satellites (LeoTrack)

● Identification and warning of collision risks in space (LeoSafe)

● Assistance with the location, tracking and recovery of contact with newly launched payloads to low Earth orbit (LeoLaunch)

● Satellite collision risk assessment

● Vector launch monitoring (satellites and others)

7 - There is no tangible evidence on the scientific use of the data obtained by the radar . It operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, automatically, sending digitized, and probably encrypted, data via redundant Internet connections to a center of operations located outside our country, where they are processed and offered to the company's commercial and state clients.

8 - Since LeoLabs is a private company, and, therefore, as there is no agreement between States that mediates its activity, it would be in a position to provide sensitive intelligence from Argentina to the United Kingdom or any other State.

9 - On November 15, 2022, the head of the Undersecretary of Telecommunications and Connectivity of the Head of the Cabinet of Ministers ( Mariano LOMBARDI) authorized the company LeoLabs Argentina SRL, to install and put into operation the radar, without giving prior notice. to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship, nor to the Ministry of Defense.

10 - LeoLabs specializes in providing Space Situational Awareness service, whose objective is the detection of space debris that orbits in orbits mostly above 300 km above the earth's surface. At the same orbital altitude you can find civil satellites, scientific satellites, military earth observation satellites, navigation satellites, electronic warfare satellites, as well as the international space station, among other objects.

11 - It also indicates operating between 300 and 2000 km altitude, where space debris is found , with the ability to detect small objects at that height. However , it can also detect aircraft almost above ground level.

12 - With the purpose of installing the radar in Tolhuin (AGSR Station) , LeoLabs Argentina SRL was established, a company whose partners are LeoLabs Ltd, - a company incorporated under British laws, -London, England-, and LeoLabs Space Holdings Ltd , - incorporated under the laws of Ireland , - Dublin, Ireland - Being LeoLabs Argentina SRL , a company with registered office in Tierra del Fuego AIAS, with a duration of 99 years, which may establish branches, agencies and representatives in different places in the country and in the foreign.It is surprising that only in our country has a company been established from LeoLabs Ltd. with management in the United Kingdom and British capital.

13 – LeoLabs Argentina SRL , indicates having received the collaboration of the National Commission for Space Activities (CONAE) , and the Department of Electrotechnics of the Faculty of Engineering of the National University of La Plata, UNLP ; with the Technical Report.Neither the CONAE nor the UNLP institutionally endorsed this collaboration.

14 - For its installation in Tolhuin, the Provincial Energy Directorate of Tierra del Fuego carried out a new derivation of the electric power line that passes through the area and a high-bandwidth fiber optic Internet connection was installed to allow the transmission of the collected data.

15 - The radar sensors can be networked with the other stations that LeoLabs has around the world , in order to expand the global reach of the coverage offered by the company.

16 - The location of the radar is located in the Special Customs Area (AAE) of Tierra del Fuego , so it may be subject to special conditions for imports/exports. This aspect is relevant, since imports of special aspects must request greater requirements from Customs and consultations with special organizations, such as CONAE and the ARN Nuclear Regulation Authority. NdR: aspects that would not have been fully fulfilled.

17 - The coverage of the antenna installed in Tierra del Fuego AIAS covers part of the Argentine continental and Antarctic airspace, and a part of the Chilean airspace.

18 - The military services that can be offered from the radar in Tolhuin are the following:

A.Early warning and spatial situational awareness.

B. Combat space situation.

C.Evaluation of action against threats.

D.Proximity monitoring and surveillance.

E. Characterization and classification of objects.

F.Monitoring of low orbit military satellites.

G.Detection and tracking of intercontinental ballistic missiles.


19 - Passive signal listening potential.

·         Each of the T/R modules belonging to the radar sensors mentioned in the

company documents has an 8-channel software defined radio (SDR).

In the radar there are 64 of these SDRs with 8 channels each.


·         SDR type receivers have the ability to be reconfigured by software already

distance to receive and modulate signals within the declared operating range

by the company, which ranges from 2900 to 3100 MHz. They are antennas and radio equipment with

ability to capture all types of signals within the declared range.


·         This capability would not only allow signal intelligence to be done while the radar is

is operational, but also when it is not, that is, passively. In this

In the latter case, it would be impossible to externally detect the activity and ensure that the radar

is inoperative, since even with the radar inoperative (not transmitting), if

is connected to the electrical grid (energized) and to fiber optics, traffic

information through Internet channels would be permanent.


·         The signals received in this listening mode can be digitized and transmitted

remotely, for subsequent analysis anywhere in the world through the

redundant Internet connections that the company declares to have for transmission of

data and system control.


  20 -The AIAS equipment installed in Tierra del Fuego has the additional potential of being used for listening and signal intelligence, even when the radar is not operating, while its passive use is very difficult to detect.

21 -Four of the LeoLabs radars are located in NATO member countries : USA, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Great Britain, with the aim of sharing data.

22 -It is almost impossible for any expert to ensure that the radar is not processing received signals, nor to evaluate what type of processing it is doing . Which makes it very complex to ascertain the type of mission for which the radar could be effectively being used.

23 - The auditing and monitoring of information transmitted outside the national territory also becomes impossible .Even having physical access to these signals, the information transmitted is illegible for anyone who is not at one of the two ends of the communication.

24 -Even with the radar not operating, the information traffic on these channels is constant , so it is virtually indistinguishable, according to the volume of traffic, whether it is detection information or another type.

25 - The only way to confirm that the Station is not operational would be through a signal detector in the radar operating band, which manages to monitor the spectrum of signals transmitted in the vicinity of its location. However, this type of Monitoring only serves to ensure that the radar is not transmitting, but is not useful in determining whether the radar is in some passive listening mode doing signal intelligence of some kind.

26 - The radar could have been installed in southern Chile or in the Malvinas Islands. But LeoLabs decided to do it in Tolhuin. Strategic location for national Defense policy, where the Argentine Army has begun to build a Military Unit.

27 -In the event of a military escalation between great powers, Argentina would be left in avulnerable situation. In this multidomain war scenario, where the space factor is a relevant part, the Tolhuin Station/Radar is expected to play an important role in obtaining decisive advantages.

28 - It is relevant to consider the impossibility of auditing the effective use given to the radar, at the same time, despite the order not to use it being in force . The only practical way to ensure that the system is not used passively is by interrupting the connections of Internet services and electrical energy , although the existence of a generating set at the location must be taken into account.

29 - Observations:

to)      The Ministry of Defense considers that prior to the authorization granted to the company LeoLabs Argentina SRL, the Province of Tierra del Fuego should have been requested to inform, through its cadastre address or equivalent, the ownership and ownership of the Estancia. “El Relincho”, place where the radar is located.

b)   It should have required the Faculty of Astronomical and Geophysical Sciences and the Department of Electrotechnics of the Faculty of Engineering of the National University of La Plata (UNLP) to report on the Technical Report “Electromagnetic Site Survey” and on their role in the search for the site, preliminary local studies and adaptation tasks for the installation of the Station in Tolhuin.

c) The National Commission for Space Activities (CONAE) should also have been asked about the measurement of electromagnetic emissions carried out within the framework of the AGSR project.

d) A report on the installation of the radar in a Special Customs Area, such as Tierra del Fuego, was not requested from the General Directorate of Customs.

e) Nor was the specialized opinion required from the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development of the Nation on the possible environmental consequences of the installation of the radar in Tolhuin.


30 – Conclusion

By virtue of what is stated in this report, the Ministry of Defense requests the cancellation and definitive suspension of the installation and commissioning of the AGSR/radar Station of LeoLabs Argentina SRL in the town of Tolhuin , Province of Tierra del Fuego AIAS , for violating national security and being incompatible with the National Defense Policy Directive -Decree 457/2021-.

For the same reasons, it is requested that the authorization to operate be removed from the company Leolabs Argentina SRL, leaving Provision 8/22 of the Undersecretary of Telecommunications and Connectivity void.

By Agenda Malvinas


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