Radar Systems Design and Engineering

Course length:

4 Days



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This four-day course covers radar functionality, architecture, and performance. Fundamental radar issues such as transmitter stability, antenna pattern, clutter, jamming, propagation, target cross section, dynamic range, receiver noise, receiver architecture, waveforms, processing, and target detection are treated in detail within the unifying context of the radar range equation, and examined within the contexts of surface and airborne radar platforms and their respective applications. Advanced topics such as pulse compression, electronically steered arrays, and active phased arrays are covered, together with the related issues of failure compensation and autocalibration. The fundamentals of multi-target tracking principles are covered, and detailed examples of surface and airborne radars are presented. This course is designed for engineers and engineering managers who wish to understand how surface and airborne radar systems work, and to familiarize themselves with pertinent design issues and the current technological frontiers.

What You Will Learn:

  • What are radar subsystems.
  • How to calculate radar performance.
  • Key functions, issues, and requirements.
  • How different requirements make radars different.
  • Operating in different modes & environments.
  • ESA and AESA radars: what are these technologies, how they work, what drives them, and what new issues they bring.
  • Issues unique to multifunction, phased array, radars.
  • State-of-the-art waveforms and waveform processing.
  • How airborne radars differ from surface radars.
  • Today’s requirements, technologies & designs.

Course Outline:

Part I: Radar and Phenomenology Fundamentals

  1. Introduction. Radar systems examples. Radar ranging principles, frequencies, architecture, measurements, displays, and parameters. Radar range equation; radar waveforms; antenna patterns, types, and parameters.
  2. Noise in Receiving Systems and Detection Principles. Noise sources; statistical properties. Radar range equation; false alarm and detection probability; and pulse integration schemes. Radar cross section; stealth; fluctuating targets; stochastic models; detection of fluctuating targets.
  3. CW Radar, Doppler, and Receiver Architecture. Basic properties; CW and high PRF relationships; dynamic range, stability; isolation requirements, techniques, and devices; superheterodyne receivers; in-phase and quadrature receivers; signal spectrum; spectral broadening; matched filtering; Doppler filtering; Spectral modulation; CW ranging; and measurement accuracy.
  4. Radio Waves Propagation. The pattern propagation factor; interference (multipath,) and diffraction; refraction; standard refractivity; the 4/3 Earth approximation; sub-refractivity; super refractivity; trapping; propagation ducts; littoral propagation; propagation modeling; attenuation.
  5. Radar Clutter and Detection in Clutter. Volume, surface, and discrete clutter, deleterious clutter effects on radar performance, clutter characteristics, effects of platform velocity, distributed sea clutter and sea spikes, terrain clutter, grazing angle vs. depression angle characterization, volume clutter, birds, Constant False Alarm Rate (CFAR) thresholding, editing CFAR, and Clutter Maps.

Part II: Clutter Processing, Waveform, and Waveform Processing

  1. Clutter Filtering Principles. Signal-to-clutter ratio; signal and clutter separation techniques; range and Doppler techniques; principles of filtering; transmitter stability and filtering; pulse Doppler and MTI; MTD; blind speeds and blind ranges; staggered MTI; analog and digital filtering; notch shaping; gains and losses. Performance measures: clutter attenuation, improvement factor, subclutter visibility, and cancellation ratio. Improvement factor limitation sources; stability noise sources; composite errors; types of MTI.
  2. Radar Waveforms.The time-bandwidth concept. Pulse compression; Performance measures; Code families; Matched and mismatched filters. Optimal codes and code families: multiple constraints. Performance in the time and frequency domains; Mismatched filters and their applications; Orthogonal and quasi-orthogonal codes; Multiple-Input- Multiple-Output (MIMO) radar; MIMO waveforms and MIMO antenna patterns.

Part III: ESA, AESA, and Related Topics

  1. Electronically Scanned Radar Systems. Fundamental concepts, directivity and gain, elements and arrays, near and far field radiation, element factor and array factor, illumination function and Fourier transform relations, beamwidth approximations, array tapers and sidelobes, electrical dimension and errors, array bandwidth, steering mechanisms, grating lobes, phase monopulse, beam broadening, examples.
  2. Active Phased Array Radar Systems. What are solid state active arrays (SSAA), what advantages do they provide, emerging requirements that call for SSAA (or AESA), SSAA issues at T/R module, array, and system levels, digital arrays, future direction.
  3. Multiple Simultaneous Beams. Why multiple beams, independently steered beams vs. clustered beams, alternative organization of clustered beams and their implications, quantization lobes in clustered beams arrangements and design options to mitigate them.

Part IV: Applications

  1. Surface Radar. Principal functions and characteristics, nearness and extent of clutter, effects of anomalous propagation, the stressing factors of dynamic range, signal stability, time, and coverage requirements, transportation requirements and their implications, sensitivity time control in classical radar, the increasing role of bird/angel clutter and its effects on radar design, firm track initiation and the scan-back mechanism, antenna pattern techniques used to obtain partial relief.
  2. Airborne Radar. Frequency selection; Platform motion effects; iso-ranges and iso-Dopplers; antenna pattern effects; clutter; reflection point; altitude line. The role of medium and high PRF’s in lookdown modes; the three PRF regimes; range and Doppler ambiguities; velocity search modes, TACCAR and DPCA.)
  3. Synthetic Aperture Radar. Principles of high resolution, radar vs. optical imaging, real vs. synthetic aperture, real beam limitations, simultaneous vs. sequential operation, derivations of focused array resolution, unfocused arrays, motion compensation, range-gate drifting, synthetic aperture modes: real-beam mapping, strip mapping, and spotlighting, waveform restrictions, processing throughputs, synthetic aperture ‘monopulse’ concepts.
  4. Multiple Target Tracking. Definition of Basic terms. Track Initiation: Methodology for initiating new tracks; Recursive and batch algorithms; Sizing of gates for track initiation. M out of N processing. State Estimation & Filtering: Basic filtering theory. Least-squares filter and Kalman filter. Adaptive filtering and multiple model methods. Use of suboptimal filters such as table look-up and constant gain. Correlation & Association: Correlation tests and gates; Association algorithms; Probabilistic data association and multiple hypothesis algorithms.


Dr. Menachem Levitas received his BS, maxima cum laude, from the University of Portland and his Ph.D. from the University of Virginia in 1975, both in physics. He has forty two years experience in science and engineering, thirty four of which in radar systems analysis, design, development, and testing for the Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and FAA. His experience encompasses many ground based, shipboard, and airborne radar systems. He has been technical lead on many radar efforts including Government source selection teams. He is the author of multiple radar based innovations and is a recipient of the Aegis Excellence Award for his contribution toward the AN/SPY-1 high range resolution (HRR) development. For many years, prior to his retirement in 2011, he had been the chief scientist of Technology Service Corporation / Washington. He continues to provide radar technical support under consulting agreements.

Stan Silberman is a member of the Senior Technical Staff of the Applied Physics Laboratory. He has over 30 years of experience in tracking, sensor fusion, and radar systems analysis and design for the Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and FAA. Recent work has included the integration of a new radar into an existing multisensor system and in the integration, using a multiple hypothesis approach, of shipboard radar and ESM sensors. Previous experience has included analysis and design of multiradar fusion systems, integration of shipboard sensors including radar, IR and ESM, integration of radar, IFF, and time-difference-of-arrival sensors with GPS data sources, and integration of multiple sonar systems on underwater platforms.



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