The Air Campaign against Yugoslavia

To April 1999


Click for reportage on spies in NATO providing the Serbs with the details of allied bombing raids.

Materials presented in chronological order.

Starr, Barbara. "High-Tech Eyes in the Sky Verify Kosovo Agreement: Snooping on the Serbs.", 28 Oct. 1998. []

"[N]ow that [Yugoslav President Slobodan] Milosevic has largely complied with NATO's demands to pull his troops out of Kosovo, the alliance is relying on a variety of high-tech satellites, spy planes and unmanned drones to make sure the Serbs don't slip back into the violence-wracked province....

"Topping the list of U.S. 'assets' is the venerable U-2.... The U-2's sensors provide a range of images including still pictures, video and infrared imagery.... The U-2 also carries rarely-discussed sensors that gather 'signals' intelligence. These sensors ... can gather data from Serb radars and eavesdrop on Serb military and police communications networks. Data gathered by the U-2 can be transmitted via satellite link to intelligence analysts in as little as four minutes.

"Also flying reconnaissance missions is ... the RC-135 Rivet Joint. This aircraft typically flies at some distance from Kosovo, cruising out over the Adriatic Sea to detect any electronic messages or activity from the Serbs. The Rivet Joint ... is armed with an array of sensors to eavesdrop on radio conversations or pick up signals from radars the Serbs may illegally activate. This would allow the Rivet Joint to send NATO aircraft immediate warnings about the location of threatening forces....

"The Predator Medium Altitude Endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) uses a number of sensors that allow it to fly over Kosovo and gather detailed information about tanks, vehicles and troops.... The drone's electro-optic sensors provide high- resolution images. An infrared sensor allows NATO to determine if tanks and other vehicles are actually running, and a high-tech synthetic aperture radar can penetrate night or bad weather. The Predator can also take and transmit live video to ground stations in Europe....

"The U.S. Air Force [also] relies on commercial [satellite] imagery from the French SPOT satellite, the Canadian RADARSAT and the U.S. Landsat.... U.S. forces can also avail themselves of a number of highly classified satellites.... The Mercury-Advanced Vortex is a 'signals intelligence' satellite capable of intercepting transmissions from radios, radars and other electronic networks. U.S. forces also rely on the KH-12 Lacrosse photographic intelligence satellite to gather pictures....

"The U.S. Navy is participating in the mission as well, with its P-3C Orion aircraft ... flying over Kosovo on a daily basis.... With the ability to stay aloft for 10 to 12 hours without refueling, the Orions will provide a continuing presence to supplement the other aircraft. The Orion is equipped with a synthetic aperture radar and an electro-optic camera system for both live video and radar images of the ground situation in Kosovo. The Orion can operate in all weather, day or night. A downlink to ground stations provides instant access to the intelligence gathered during a mission."

Amnesty International. "Kosovo: Human Rights Crisis Deepens -- Military Intelligence May Be Vital Deterrent." "Amnesty News" Release, 26 Mar. 1999.

"Monitoring the situation in [Kosovo] is becoming increasingly difficult as the main international monitoring mission, that of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, withdrew its observers last week as a result of the increased likelihood of a military intervention by NATO. In addition, foreign journalists of NATO member states -- who appeared to make up the bulk of the foreign press corps -- have either been expelled by the authorities or have withdrawn for fear for their own security.

"In the absence of international observers on the ground in Kosovo, Amnesty International calls upon states with substantial reconnaissance and intelligence capabilities to monitor the human rights and humanitarian situation in the area, to make public the information available where appropriate, and share fuller details with the relevant international organisations. It may be important that states inside and outside of NATO do this."

Loeb, Vernon. "From Above, Satellites Track Refugees and Atrocities." Washington Post, 6 Apr. 1999, A18.

"One senior U.S. official said spy satellites, after focusing almost exclusively on Yugoslav air defenses and other military targets, have now been tasked to help document village atrocities and the movement of refugees in Kosovo."

Sparaco, Pierre. "French Satellite Details Air Strike Damage." Aviation Week & Space Technology, 12 Apr. 1999, 26-27.

"The French Helios 1 imaging reconnaissance satellite and two air force Mirage IVPs are making a significant contribution in providing detailed assessment of NATO air strikes against military targets in Yugoslavia."

Evans, Michael. "SAS 'on the Ground in Kosovo.'" Times (London), 13 Apr. 1999. []

"[I]t can be assumed that special forces elements are in Kosovo and that they are providing key intelligence to back up the rapidly improving picture of where the Yugoslav 3rd Army forces are located. The role of the SAS would be to hunt for and then pinpoint the disposition of Yugoslav troops and armoured units, as well as fixed military sites, and provide precise grid references for bomber pilots."

Gertz, Bill. "Yugoslavia Has Nuke Material: Agencies." Washington Times National Weekly Edition, 19-25 Apr. 1999, 1, 22.

"U.S. intelligence agencies warned NATO military commanders two weeks ago that Yugoslavia could resort to nuclear-laced weapons in the Balkans conflict.... Nuclear material for a radiological weapon ... is being stored at the Vinca Institute of Nuclear Sciences, located about six miles southeast of ... Belgrade."

Bruce, Ian. "Serbs Used CIA Phone to Call in Convoy Raid." Herald (London), 20 Apr. 1999. []

"The refugees targeted by mistake in the NATO raid involving the US Air Force [on 14 April 1999] died because ... the fatal strike was called in by the Serbs using a mobile phone and security identification codes supplied to a KLA 'spotter' by the CIA. The man is believed to have been captured early last week and tortured into telling what he knew.... Intelligence sources said last night that a joint CIA-US special forces group operating out of the eastern Bosnian town of Tuzla is running a group of KLA agents inside Kosovo. These men are tasked with reporting the location and movements of all Serb troops and police units via mobile phones."

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