Advanced radar clutter filtering

Enhanced performance for existing and planned radar platforms

Software & Information Technology Sensors

Birds, bugs, and other airborne material may clutter up radar data and make it harder to identify hazardous weather or other targets. (Illustration via National Severe Storms Laboratory)

The U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division, has developed a radar filter method that can significantly improve detection of targets in cluttered environments.

The filtering technique may reduce clutter by 10 dB or more and is most beneficial when detecting targets whose Doppler frequencies are similar to the clutter Doppler spectrum.

The Navy’s solution is simple and elegant, employing the radar’s own two-way antenna pattern gain characteristics in combination with the clutter-to-noise ratio to maximize the signal to interference ratio for slow-moving targets in the clutter spectrum. The necessary calculations can easily be made with a few lines of code on existing hardware platforms. Competing systems are complicated, resource intensive, and require training data to compensate for non-stationary clutter.

The Navy’s filtering technique enhances the effectiveness of a wide range of weather, aviation, and military radar systems and requires only minimal changes to software or firmware once the system’s antenna pattern is assessed. The improvements are attractive for weather applications where clutter is the Achille’s heel of modern Doppler imaging. The largest amplitude clutter interference for weather radars is created by the ground, and accuracy is further degraded by birds, insects, and various debris, such as dust, in the air. Military platforms, such as the AN/TPS-80 G/ATOR and the 3-D Expeditionary Long-Range Radar, may realize significant gains by employing the Navy’s solution.

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