AESA Radar Systems

Course length:

1 day



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Recent developments in antenna hardware, digital signal processing, and small, low-cost digital processors have made possible the introduction of Active Electronically Scanned Antenna (AESA) radars into many modern systems – both commercial and military. These AESA radars have the capability to modify the transmit and receive characteristics of an antenna and the ability to form simultaneous, multiple, independent beams in order to provide a multi-functional capability. This enables the capability to track multiple targets while automatically minimizing interference from all other sources. The most sophisticated versions of AESA radars can adaptively, and in real-time, adjust their characteristics to the sensed electromagnetic environment. AESA radars are now being used in sophisticated military systems such as surveillance radar, moving target indicator (MTI) tracking radar, and imaging radar. This course is intended for scientists, engineers, and technical managers who require an introduction to the basic principles and techniques used in AESA radar systems. The course is intended for those with no previous background in the area. It provides a brief review of radar principles and covers a wide variety of topics in antenna arrays and related digital processing techniques. The following topics will be covered:

Course Outline:

  • A brief review of the fundamentals of radar systems. Antennas, gain and directivity, gain patterns, sidelobes and beamwidths.
  • Array antennas, beam switching and agile beam steering. Active vs. Passive Electronically Scanned Arrays (AESA vs. PESA). Trade-offs and requirements for implementing AESA radar technology.
  • Beamforming in an antenna array. Discussion of both analog and digital beamforming techniques. Adaptive arrays, clutter cancellation and interference rejection.
  • AESA hardware components. Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuits (MMIC) and their use in AESA radar systems. Semiconductor technologies: Silicon (Si), Gallium Arsenide (GaAs) and Gallium Nitride (GaN).
  • A sampling of current AESA radar systems: Airborne (Fighter/Surveillance), Surface Ship, and Ground Base


Dr. John Santapietro is currently an Adjunct Professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the Stevens Institute of Technology. For nearly 25 years he was a Principal Sensor Systems Engineer with the MITRE Corporation holding the position of Technical Manager for Army Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR).  He has contributed to a variety of Army ISR programs serving as technical advisor for requirements and Source Selection for programs such as Aerial Common Sensor (ACS) and Enhanced Medium Altitude Airborne Reconnaissance System (EMARSS), the Distributed Common Ground System – Army (DCGS-A), the Joint STARS Common Ground Station (CGS), and the Tactical Endurance Synthetic Aperture Radar (TESAR). He also served as a Subject Matter Expert (SME) on the OSD Radar Working Group.  He is heavily engaged in modeling and simulation activities for moving target indicator (MTI) radar, synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and other surveillance and imaging sensors.  Before joining MITRE, Dr. Santapietro held technical staff positions with the David Sarnoff Research Center (now Sarnoff Corp.) and Lockheed Electronics Company where he was responsible for the design and development of signal and image processing architectures for various radar, communications and imaging systems.


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