Target detection and tracking with combined radar and optics

Pulse-Doppler radar configuration uses an RF-Photonic interferoceiver to perform an analog true time domain correlation of the received RE signal pulse in a hardware circuitry

Communications Electronics

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Scientists at the Army Research Laboratory have recently invented a novel radar system that will outfit air traffic control with more precision to detect when one airplane is behind another and determine distance and velocity difference of the two airplanes. The patented technology is available via patent license agreement to companies that would make, use, or sell it commercially.

Invented in the 1940s and continually refined over the previous decades, radar continues to be the most useful and practical means for a host of applications including tracking aircraft and other aerial born objects. But it is not without drawbacks.

Problems with present radar and electronic warfare technologies include such issues as range inaccuracy, Doppler range ambiguity, fratricides (due to radar misinterpretation error), excessive clutter contamination and inter-system interference, and low ballistic missile interception rate. These issues originate from superheterodyne down conversion, commonly used in conventional radio frequency receivers.

As a stepwise improvement over conventional radar, ARL has developed a new pulse Doppler radar architecture and configuration that uses an RF-Photonic interferoceiver to perform an analog true time domain correlation of the received RE signal pulse in hardware circuitry. In contrast with common radar technology, an interferometric receiver requires only a single pulse. Single pulsing makes masking disappear and avoids the need for time averages, which leads to blurring.

In addition, the approach provides a signal alignment synchronization mechanism that allows a received pulse to be aligned in time with a reference pulse at the input of the RF-Photonic correlation receiver or recirculation loop. Further, the system overcomes loop instabilities and noises and reduces resonant noise in the loop by preventing unwanted resonance for circulating signals.

The radar system can operate in two modes: 1), Searching mode for searching, tracking, selecting, and prioritizing targets of interest; 2), High-resolution mode for precision Doppler detection and micro-Doppler identification.

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