Surface to Air Missile Sites in Google Earth

SAM Missile sites in Google EarthIn a project started almost two years ago, a Google Earth Community member named Sean O’Connor has been documenting the locations of Surface to Air Missile (SAM) sites around the world by using the satellite and aerial imagery from Google Earth. This is a form of IMINT (IMagery INTelligence) normally performed by military intelligence personnel. But, now amateur analysts are performing similar work with public domain imagery. Only some of these amateurs seem to do a pretty good job. Sean has already documented, with help from other members of the GEC, nearly 1400 SAM sites. He not only identifies the sites, but also identifies the type of missiles located at each site and then uses colored circles to indicate the range of each missile site. See the collection here and select the “Range Rings” folder and the “SAMs by Country” folder to see the information. The collection is posted/maintained in a thread at the GEC here.
Sean has an interesting blog called IMINT & Analysis where he documents many other subjects of IMINT and performs other interesting military analysis using GE imagery. He calls his work “open source military analysis”. An interesting concept I think. Recently he blogged about the techniques he uses to search Google Earth for interesting content. These are similar techniques used by myself and others to find planes in flight in the GE imagery. Sean has done some excellent work. And, he’s only one of several military analysis enthusiasts out there.
If you are interested in finding other information about military related things found in Google Earth, read the two forums at the GEC: Military (moderated) and Military (unmoderated).
Here are some other interesting military finds people have made with Google Earth:

About Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was first released. He has worked with 3D computer graphics and VR for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank completed a 5.5 year circumnavigation of the earth by sailboat in June 2015 which you can read about at Tahina Expedition, and is a licensed pilot, backpacker, diver, and photographer.


  1. I’ve run across a couple of these projects — Sean’s one of the better ones. I’m more curious to see whether Pike sees potential and whether he’d be willing to lend his support or perhaps open-up a little more on Global Security to include these projects — harvest them and help guide them.

  2. Oh my god. How ill is that? I thought the cold war is over… and now this?

  3. Got up early to see how Westport3D looked in Google Earth as it was to be launched today. The level of detail captured from the shopfronts is incredible. Fly to ” Westport, Mayo, Ireland ” and turn on TERRAIN and 3D BUILDINGS. It looks great, you can even read the text on the stone monument and see the different jewellery in the jewellers window. Surely worthy of a mention on your blog. Would this be the most detailed 3D settlement in Google Earth? I know there are a few detailed cities in Germany but this really is as if you were right on the street. Google deserve praise for hosting this.

  4. Konstantin says:

    If you think the risk of any major conflict is over then you are living in a candy land and I am Bugs Bunny ;p

  5. Wow, seems pretty scary :/

  6. Mike Anders says:

    Surface to Air missile sites aren’t scary. Try Surface to Surface missile sites.

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