Modern Radar Acquisition, Scan Conversion and Tracking
May 21, 2015
The fundamental principles
Requirements for the implementation of a multi-function console integrating radar video applications include high-resolution radar video acquisition, fast and accurate extraction of plots and tracks from the digitized radar video, and high-quality multiple window radar scan conversion onto the operator’s console. There may be multiple consoles on larger platforms, each providing their operator with independent views of the outside world and each combining scan converted radar with target tracking synthetics, information totes and potentially live video window feeds.
In many ways, the fundamental principles of radar systems have not changed for several decades. Broadly speaking, the same methods of detecting and identifying distant radar echoes still apply, and radar processing systems need to capture the returned radar video applying algorithms to filter and detect valid targets. However, there are several significant advances that introduced performance benefits to modern radar systems. Perhaps the most significant is the electronically scanned array, or phased radar, which allows the radar beam to be steered rapidly and accurately without the need for mechanical steering. This technology provides for rapid scanning of a large area of interest and also allows specific targets to be swiftly and accurately tracked. In contrast, with traditional mechanically steered systems a given target is typically scanned only once per complete revolution or sector scan of the radar antenna.
A further significant element of modern radar systems is the use of Identification Friend or Foe (IFF), more commonly known for civil operations as Secondary Surveillance Radar (SSR) which allows a transponder fitted to the aircraft to return extra information to the receiving station such as altitude and aircraft identity. But in addition to these established technologies, there is a constant demand for modern radar installations to offer better performance under a wide range of weather conditions, while reducing the power and size requirements and increasing the mobility of the installation.