13 Types of military radar

Types of military radar

Radar technology was initially designed to meet the requirements and needs of the military. Since then, there has been continuous improvement on the radar technology to assist in the military operations on land, in the air and at sea. We take a look at some of the types of radars that the military uses to advance their interest and achieve their objectives.


1. Simple Pulse Radar
This type is the most typical radar with a waveform consisting of repetitive short-duration pulses. Typical examples are long-range air and maritime surveillance radars, test range radars, and weather radars. There are two types of pulse radars that uses the Doppler frequency shift of the received signal to detect moving targets, such as aircraft, and to reject the large unwanted echoes from stationary clutter that do not have a Doppler shift.

2. Moving-Target Indication (MTI) Radar
By sensing Doppler frequencies, an MTI radar can differentiate echoes of a moving target from stationary objects and clutter, and reject the clutter. Its waveform is a train of pulses with a low PRR to avoid range ambiguities. What this means is that range measurement at the low PRR is good while speed measurement is less accurate than at a high PRR’s.

3. High-Range Resolution Radar
This is a pulse-type radar that uses very short pulses to obtain range resolution of a target the size ranging from less than a meter to several meters across. It is used to detect a fixed or stationary target in the clutter and for recognizing one type of target from another and works best at short ranges.

4. Imaging Radar
Synthetic aperture, inverse synthetic aperture, and side-looking airborne radar techniques are sometimes referred to as imaging radars. The Army, Navy, Air Force, and NASA are the primary users of imaging radars.

5. Tracking Radar
This kind of radar continuously follows a single target in angle (azimuth and elevation) and range to determine its path or trajectory, and to predict its future position. The single-target tracking radar provides target location almost continuously. A typical tracking radar might measure the target location at a rate of 10 times per second. Range instrumentation radars are typical tracking radars. Military tracking radars employ sophisticated signal processing to estimate target size or identify specific characteristics before a weapon system is activated against them. These radars are sometimes referred to as fire-control radars.

6. Electronically Scanned Phased-Array Radar
An electronically scanned phased-array antenna can position its beam rapidly from one direction to another without mechanical movement of large antenna structures. Agile, rapid beam switching permits the radar to track many targets simultaneously and to perform other functions as required. The Army, Navy, and Air Force are the primary users of electronically scanned phased-array radars.

7. Precipitation Radar
This radar is employed on an aircraft or satellite and generally its antenna beam is scanning at an angle optimum to its flight path to measure radar returns from rainfall to determine rainfall rate.

8. Cloud Profile Radar
Usually employed aboard an aircraft or satellite. The radar beam is oriented at nadir measuring the radar returns from clouds to determine the cloud reflectivity profile over the Earth’s surface.

9. Scatterometer
This radar is employed on an aircraft or satellite and generally its antenna beam is oriented at various aspects to the sides of its track vertically beneath it. The scatterometer uses the measurement of the return echo power variation with aspect angle to determine the wind direction and speed of the Earth’s ocean surfaces.

10. Naval Fire-Control Radars.
These are shipborne radars that are part of a radar-based fire-control and weapons guidance systems.

11. Airborne Surveillance Radars.
These radar systems are designed for early warning, land and maritime surveillance, whether for fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, or remotely piloted vehicles (RPV’s).

12. Airborne Fire-Control Radars.
Includes those airborne radar systems for weapons fire-control (missiles or guns) and weapons aiming.

13. Military Air Traffic Control and Ranging Radars.
These include both land-based and shipborne ATC radar systems used for assisting aircraft landing, and supporting test and evaluation activities on test ranges.

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