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3D Radars for Counter stealth Aircraft, Counter Unmanned Aircraft Systems (C-UAS) to Air and Missile defence systems

Radar, electromagnetic sensor used for detecting, locating, tracking, and recognizing objects of various kinds at considerable distances. It operates by transmitting electromagnetic energy toward objects, commonly referred to as targets, and observing the echoes returned from them.  Energy is emitted in various frequencies and wavelengths from large wavelength radio waves to shorter wavelength gamma rays.

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Radar is an “active” sensing device in that it has its own source of illumination (a transmitter) for locating targets. It typically operates in the microwave region of the electromagnetic spectrum—measured in hertz (cycles per second), at frequencies extending from about 400 megahertz (MHz) to 40 gigahertz (GHz), highlighted in yellow. It has, however, been used at lower frequencies for long-range applications (frequencies as low as several megahertz, which is the HF [high-frequency], or shortwave, band) and at optical and infrared frequencies (those of laser radar, or lidar). The targets may be aircraft, ships, spacecraft, automotive vehicles, and astronomical bodies, or even birds, insects, and rain. Besides determining the presence, location, and velocity of such objects, radar can sometimes obtain their size and shape as well.


Conventonal radars were 2D radars that were confined to 2 dimensions providing information of range and bearing while 3D radar displays information of elevation, bearing, and range. The information provided by 3D radar has long been required, particularly for air defence and interception. Interceptors must be told the altitude to climb to before making an intercept. Before the advent of single unit 3D radars, this was achieved with separate search radars (giving range and azimuth) and separate height finding radars that could examine a target to determine altitude. These had little search capability, so were directed to a particular azimuth first found by the primary search radar.


Long range 3D radar has gained popularity in recent years, owing to its growing applicability in weather monitoring applications as it helps in accurate prediction of natural calamities, such as floods, earthquakes, cyclones, and hurricanes.  Moreover, 3D radar is largely being adopted by the air force or defense for monitoring and surveillance of weather and air defense

3D Radar Technology

Steered beam radars

Steered beam radars steer a narrow beam through a scan pattern to build a 3-D picture. After each scanning rotation, the antenna elevation is changed for the next sounding. This scenario will be repeated on many angles to scan all the volume of air around the radar within the maximum range. For a complete cycle with rotation and tilt of the antenna in all directions but it takes up to 15 minutes. This time approach is not suitable for an air surveillance radar because very fast aircraft can travel a huge distance in a very short time. An airplane with supersonic velocity travels nearly 300 km during this interval!


Examples include NEXRAD Doppler weather radar (which uses a parabolic dish) and the AN/SPY-1 passive electronically scanned array radar employed by the Ticonderoga class of guided missile cruisers and other ships so equipped with the Aegis Combat System.


Stacked beam radars

Stacked beam radars emit and/or receive multiple beams of radio waves at two or more elevation angles. By comparing the relative strengths of the returns from each beam, the elevation of the target can be deduced.

An example of a stacked beam radar is the Air Route Surveillance Radar. Earlier this radars such as  Medium Power Radar (MPR) were made with huge parabolic antenna having 36 feed horns and configures a total of 12 different narrow antenna beams that are aligned one above another, all in different elevation angles. From the circumstance, the echo signals are processed in which channels of the receive channels, and in what direction showing its beam normally, the radar processor interpolates an accurate elevation angle of the received echo signal. The target’s height is calculated from this elevation angle and the measured distance. An extremely high pulse power had to be transmitted simultaneously in all 12 directions during transmission time. Therefore, both of transmitter power amplifiers are designed to use pulsed high power klystrons to generate a pulse power of up to 20 megawatts.


Older 3D radar device having a planar or linear phased array does not transmit simultaneously in all directions under observation. This is done sequentially in time. These antennas can only scan the space within a limited swivel angle. Here there are two possibilities: either the antenna is rotating in azimuth and electronically scans the elevation angle, or there are four planar antennas statically distributed around a carrier, each covering only of a quarter section of the hemisphere. Both variants allow an overall coverage around the radar site. Here, the radar transmits only in a certain direction and then waits for the echo signal from this direction.


The rotating antenna has a critical disadvantage. Because each elevation angle will be scanned sequentially in time, the antenna mustn’t rotate too fast, to avoid gaps in the reconnaissance by the limited time budget. However, the version using the static antennas has the advantage in time scheduling that virtually four radars scan the space simultaneously. These four radar front-ends are subject of a common radar data processing and display. Here, the radar system can operate much more flexible and it can be used as multi-function radar. Modern radars are therefore always multi-function radars.


Since the use of the advantages of digital beamforming and the possible parallel digital processing of all receiving channels, this timing problem is completely overcome. However, the entire scanned area must then be illuminated with the pulse power during the transmission time, as like in MPR at that time. With a single, very specific “Crow’s-Nest Antenna”, patented by the Fraunhofer Institute for High-Frequency Physics and Radar Techniques (FHR), the entire hemisphere around the radar site could be controlled simultaneously.


3D Pencil Beam Technique – The 3D Radar is a “pencil beam” radar. This “pencil-type” high-gain beam is aimed with phase control to several transmit/receive pointing elevations whilst the antenna is mechanically rotated in azimuth. Each beam can be configured with the number of pulses, pulse energy, instrumented range and processing type that are most appropriate, taking into account the required instrumented coverage and the characteristics of clutter in the elevation volume covered by the beam.


Detection is improved since it can only be affected by the clutter or interference present in the beam that points at the aircraft. High elevation beams are virtually free of surface clutter making aircraft detection more feasible than with conventional 2D radars. 3D radar system provides aircraft altitude data without the need of their cooperation.


Planar Array Antenna and Distributed – Solid-State Design: It is based on a planar array antenna composed of vertically stacked horizontal linear arrays. Driven by modular solid-state transmitters and receivers that electronically synthesize a transmit/receive antenna pattern with narrow beam width, both in azimuth and elevation.


Monopulse Technique – Another specific feature of 3D Radar is the achievement of high accuracy and resolution of aircraft in azimuth by the use of Monopulse technique. This technique, based on simultaneous reception of signals through two antenna patterns, sum-type and difference-type patterns, is also used for estimation of aircraft elevation, which is the first step for aircraft height calculation. Range accuracy and resolution is obtained by digital pulse compression by using phase modulated waveforms and very low side lobe level filter response.


Frequency Diversity – The 3D Radar is a dual frequency radar simultaneously operating with two frequency channels. This feature provides better detection and accuracy performance, especially for small aircraft and interference conditions.


Anti-Clutter Capabilities – Detection of aircraft immersed in terrain or weather clutter is achieved by the use of MTD or MTI processing. Aircraft with low radial velocities can also be detected by the clutter-free high elevation beams or by the low elevation beams which provide superclutter visibility based on Clutter Map detection techniques.


Future trends of 3D radar

Near-area detection with state-of-the-art technology – The German company InnoSenT has developed a new radar solution for close range. The product iSYS-5005 impresses with reliable and precise detection thanks to complex 24 GHz MIMO radar technology and advanced signal processing. The product boasts new features, such as radar tracking, and determines comprehensive object information. The equipment of the near-range sensor is available for security systems & automatic door control for the first time.


Highly Adaptable Multiple Mission Radars – Northrop Grumman Corporation has demonstrated its mobile Highly Adaptable Multi-Mission Radar (HAMMR) system against a target drone to the US Army at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.The HAMMR is a short- to medium-range X-Band Three Dimensional (3D) radar that utilizes the proven Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) AN/APG-83 F-16 fighter radar in a ground-based, sense on-the-move role. HAMMR provides multi-mission 3D performance for air surveillance, weapon cueing and counter-fire target acquisition missions in either a 360-degree or sector-only staring mode. HAMMR delivers the ability to provide force protection while operating on the move, increasing warfighter survivability.


Long Tactical Range Radar – The British Royal Air Force (RAF) is set to receive a deployable military radar system, the Long Tactical Range 25 (LTR25), from Spanish firm Indra. Indra was chosen from a list of potential suppliers. Delivery of the advanced long-range air defence deployable radar system is anticipated to take place by the end of this year. The LTR25 deployable military radar system, which is part of the family of Lanza 3D radars developed by Indra, is known for its long-range detection capabilities, rapid deployment and ease of transportation. The radar can be transported in aircraft such as the Lockheed C-130 Hercules. The RAF can use the system for deployments outside the national territory to bolster the surveillance of a specific area on a ‘one-off basis’. In addition, LTR25 can serve as a backup in case one of the fixed radars is attacked or damaged.


Weather Radars – Maxstorm: Whether on-air or across digital platforms, Max Storm is designed to empower your team with the stunning visualizations, accurate weather data and streamlined workflows crucial to severe weather coverage. Take viewers into the storm in near real-time with 3D weather radar and imagery, or engage your audience on mobile devices while also promoting your live on-air broadcast. With Max Storm, the possibilities are endless.


Autonomous Track and Search Radars – SMART-L is a 3D multibeam radar manufactured by Thales Group to provide long-range air & surface surveillance and target designation. A fully digitally controlled Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar. The applied high-end techniques result in a radar with an unrivalled long range performance of 2000 km. Within this enormous range it detects a wide spectrum of targets: air breathing targets, stealth targets and ballistic missiles. It can be installed on landbased locations, on sea and is also available as Deployable Air Defence Radar. SMART-L MM independently finds Ballistic Missile type targets. Following fast track initiation, the ballistic target track is maintained up to zenith. Ballistic Missile detection range is improved significantly by applying forward/backward scanning and staring modes which provides increased observation time.


C-UAS Radars

The Blighter A800 is a 3D multi-mode radar, based on the latest generation monopulse antenna technology. It provides the unique ability to use its optimised air security modes to search for small drones, and at the same time, can use its ground/sea surveillance modes to search for surface targets over land and water.

The A800 performs its air, ground and sea detection functions simultaneously, allowing multi-mode operation with simple user setup. The A800 multi-mode radar uses triple, transmit and receive, radar-beam spotlighting to focus all its energy on targets of interest. The radar ignores ground clutter and off-beam targets, giving rapid scanning of a 90° wide by 40° high cone.


The A800 acts as the key detect element in C-UAS (counter-unmanned aerial system) products. It is designed to counter current low, slow and small (LSS) threats caused by the mis-use of commercial ‘hobby’ drones. (Including the commonly used ‘DJI Phantom’ style quadcopters.) To further enhance system performance, the A800 features smart micro-Doppler target filtering with AI target classification. This reduces false alarms from wildlife and helps improve the detection of multicopter and winged drones.


In response to gaps in the short-range air defense radar market, Numerica, a leader in designing and deploying best-in-class defense technology, announces the development of a new U.S.-made, 3D radar solution for Counter Unmanned Aircraft Systems (C-UAS) and other short-range defense missions – introducing Spyglass™ Short Range Surveillance Radar. Designed to fill the need for exceptional C-UAS detection and tracking performance, Spyglass from Numerica will be available soon for a broad set of applications including facility security, border surveillance, convoy and vehicle protection, air space monitoring and more.


Spyglass will offer advantages including:

Superior precision: Spyglass utilizes Ku-Band Phased Array technology to provide high-precision measurements, improving targeting and classification performance at longer ranges and providing critical time for decision making and threat mitigation.
See farther + react faster: Advanced signal processing algorithms and autonomy extend the detection range of the 3D radar allowing users to see farther and faster.
Close the gap: Traditional pulse-doppler radar designs leave users blind up close, Spyglass’ simultaneous transmit-and-receive design ensures threats are not missed at close ranges.
Deploy anywhere: With a rugged, solid-state design, low power consumption and low transmit power, Spyglass is built to be deployed anywhere needed.
Any mission covered: With embedded C2 and AI software, Spyglass is designed to enable broad-area autonomous sensor networks. Software-defined operating modes enable rapid customization to specific mission requirements.
Trusted U.S. partner: Designed and manufactured in the U.S. by trusted defense partners.


Hensoldt upgrades TRS-3D radars of Germany Navy’s two K130 corvettes

Hensoldt has secured a naval radar modernisation contract from German procurement authority Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw). Under the contract, the company will upgrade the TRS-3D radars on two German Navy Braunschweig-class (K130) corvettes and an associated shore facility.


TRS-3D is a modular, countermeasure-resistant, medium-range air and surface surveillance system. The multi-mode surveillance and target acquisition radar is a fully coherent phased array C band radar capable of fully automatic detection and track initiation. It is also capable of classifying various types of targets. With the help of Hensoldt identification system MSSR 2000, the TRS-3D radar can correlate the position and movement data of targets.


Over 60 TRS-3D radars are in service with navies and coastguards across the world. Besides K130 corvettes, TRS-3D radars are fitted on the US Coast Guard’s National Security Cutters, US Navy Littoral Combat Ships, as well as Finnish Navy and the Norwegian Coast Guard ships.


Raytheon developing three-dimensional expeditionary long-range radar (3DELRR)  play critical role in networked integrated Air and Missile defence systems (IAMD)

Militaries around the world are increasingly facing formidable strategic and threat environment in terms of complexity, lethality, range, sophistication and number of threats. To counter these threats, the militaries around the world are developing networked integrated Air and Missile defence systems (IAMD). IAMD entails both the defence against conventional air threats, such as aircraft, helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles and balloons (air defence), as well as the defence against ballistic missiles and cruise missiles (missile defence).


Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems has  developed a three-dimensional expeditionary long-range radar (3DELRR) system for the US Air Force (USAF).   The company has developed 3DELRR as part of the US Department of Defense’s Design Exportability Features (DEF) programme to outpace the growing dangers of the modern battlefield.


The  three-dimensional expeditionary long-range radar (3DELRR) C-band  radar enables troops to detect, identify and track a wide variety of targets including drones, missiles and aircraft very accurately at great distances. C-band is also a relatively uncongested portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, therefore providing additional operational flexibility to the troops.


Raytheon’s 3DELRR system is a gallium nitride (GaN)-based radar that operates in the C-band of the radio frequency spectrum. By using GaN, Raytheon was able to affordably increase the radar’s range, sensitivity and search capabilities. C-band also offers the military increased flexibility because that portion of the spectrum is relatively uncongested.


Components of the new radar will include an antenna array, signal and data processors, rotating assembly, identification friend or foe system and various other subsystems. Radar capabilities will include, but are not limited to, improved detection performance for newer targets, stronger clutter rejection, electronic protection, anti-radiation missile countermeasures and an open systems architecture design.


The concurrent design of the radar system enables more cost-effective and timely fielding of systems for US forces, allies and security partners, according to a statement by Raytheon. The 3DELRR is claimed to be interoperable with coalition systems and capable of meeting the requirements of many foreign militaries. Work will be carried out in Andover, Massachusetts, US, with plans to complete by 30 November 2020.


The 3DELRR radar is one of the first programs under the DoD’s Better Buying Power initiative to be designed for exportability, enabling U.S. forces, allies and security partners to benefit from the system. The system will serve as the US Air Force’s primary long-range, ground-based sensor for detecting, identifying, tracking and reporting aerial targets — replacing the legacy TPS-75 system.


The Three-Dimensional Expeditionary Long-Range Radar (3DELRR) is required to replace the AN/TPS-75 radar as the principal USAF long-range, ground-based sensor for detecting, identifying, tracking, and reporting aircraft and missiles in support of the Joint Forces Air Component Commander through the Ground Theater Air Control System. It is possible that the USMC will align their AN/TPS-59 product improvement/upgrade initiative with this effort. The primary mission of the 3DELRR will be to provide long-range surveillance, control of aircraft, and theater ballistic missile detection. The 3DELRR will provide air controllers with a precise, real-time air picture of sufficient quality to conduct close control of individual aircraft under a wide range of environmental and operational conditions.


In the case of theater missile defense operations, the new radar will have the capability to detect, track, and disseminate target information to respective command and control nodes such as the USAF Control and Reporting Center to disseminate for warning and engagement. Similarly, the joint targeting process will benefit from trajectory information provided by the 3DELRR, which will include launch and impact location. The 3DELRR will correct current radar system shortfalls by providing the capability to detect and report highly maneuverable, small radar cross section targets as well as classify and determine the type of a non-cooperative aircraft. It will also mitigate most of the sustainability and maintainability concerns which plague the current system.


This new radar will give the GTACS real-time display of all air activity and be rugged enough to support a wide range of deployed operations in all types of weather and terrain conditions. It will also provide sufficient advanced warning and target information to allow for threat evaluation and responsive action.


The 3DELRR will provide air controllers with a precise, real-time air picture of sufficient quality to conduct close control of individual aircraft under a wide range of environmental and operational conditions. In the case of theater missile defense operations, the new radar will have the capability to detect, track, and disseminate target information to respective command and control nodes such as the USAF Control and Reporting Center to disseminate for warning and engagement. Similarly, the joint targeting process will benefit from trajectory information provided by the 3DELRR, which will include launch and impact location.


The 3DELRR will correct current radar system shortfalls by providing the capability to detect and report highly maneuverable, small radar cross section targets as well as classify and determine the type of a non-cooperative aircraft. It will also optimize system sustainability and maintainability.


The vision for 2020 Joint Integrated Air and missile Defense (IAMD) is one where all capabilities-defensive, passive, offensive, kinetic, non-kinetic (e.g. cyber warfare, directed energy, and electronic Attack) – are melded into a comprehensive Joint and combined force capable of preventing an adversary from effectively employing any of its offensive air and missile weapons.


China’s anti-stealth 3D radar reported in April 2021

Developed by the No.14 Research Institute of the CETC under the concept that radar systems are facing increasingly diverse threats, the SLC-7 L-band 3D surveillance radar system can take on targets including stealth aircraft, helicopters, drones, cruise missiles, tactical ballistic missiles, near-space targets, and artillery shells and rockets, making it much more versatile than many competing products, according to a statement the research institute sent to the Global Times on Thursday at the event.


The SLC-7 can detect and track multiple targets at the same time, withstand saturation attacks, adapt to jamming, and rapidly identify targets, the statement said, noting that it has a long range, is very reliable, and can be deployed with only one push of a button.
Previous radar systems often had dedicated functions, but this versatile radar can not only detect stealth targets but also be used in fields like early warning and artillery reconnaissance. This means this radar alone can serve the purpose of multiple radars operating at the same time, Hu Mingchun, director of the No.14 Research Institute, told the Global Times in an exclusive interview at the expo on Thursday.

Almost all characteristics of the SLC-7 fit the trend of modern radar development, analysts said, as its specifications are on par with foreign mainstream radar systems like the AN-TPS-117 of the US and the Nebo-M of Russia.


3D Radar Market

The global 3D Radar market size is projected to reach USD 1735.2 million by 2026, from USD 900.9 million in 2021, at a CAGR of 11.5% during 2021-2026.  Additionally, due to the increasing application of 3D radar in various industries is thus driving the growth of 3D radar market across the globe.

Growth Drivers

The increasing use of modern warfare techniques and the adoption of 3D radar by airports are some of the major factors driving the growth of the 3D radar market. Moreover, the growing deployment of air & missile defense systems is another factor anticipated to boost the growth of the 3D radar market.


The emergence of electronic warfare and network-centric warfare techniques, increasing the development of ballistic missile and increasing deployments of UAVs are the major factors that are driving the growth of the 3D radar market across the globe. Due to the latest developments in the technology, there have been upgradations in the warfare techniques for these techniques the 3D radars are used.


Further, the UAV systems are used for aerial vehicles that comprise a radar system to analyze the surroundings in the atmosphere. Moreover, these factors are thereby anticipated to provide rampant growth to the 3D radar market globally at an extensive rate.



High installation costs and less skilled expertise are the challenges witnessed by 3D radar industry players globally. However, high manufacturing cost and requirement of technical expertise for the installation of this system makes it costly and less affordable.


The huge costs incurred in the development of different types of 3D radar is the major factor restraining the growth of the 3D radar market across the globe. Significant investments are required at different stages of the value chain of the 3D radar industry (especially in the R&D, manufacturing, system integration, and assembly stages).


Geographic Overview

Geographically, North America is the largest 3D radar market, globally due to the increasing deployment of ballistic missiles and increasing utilization of UAVs in this region. Furthermore, it has been observed that increasing adoption of latest warfare techniques with the advanced equipment and increasing investments in defense is another reason for the growth of the 3D radar market in this region.


Moreover, Asia-Pacific is anticipated to witness the fastest growth during the forecast period due to increasing developments in security standards and the increasing surveillance and monitoring of global threats. Moreover, the emergence of nuclear states in this region had necessitated the implementation of 3D radar systems at a rapid pace. Furthermore, increasing initiatives undertaken by the government authorities towards investments in UAVs and the upgradation in air force jets are significantly contributing towards the growth of the 3D radar market across the globe.


Insight by Frequency Band

The 3D radar market on the basis of the frequency band is categorized into L Band, C/S/X band, E/F band, and others. Among all these segments, C/S/X band segment holds the largest share in the 3D radar market globally. The C-band is extensively being used as a satellite transponder for long-range tracking extensively being used by military personnel for surveillance purpose at the time of the battlefield. Furthermore, increasing popularity of C/S/X band in various emerged as well as emerging economies is thereby expected to enhance the growth of 3D radar market globally.


Insight by Range

On the basis of range, the 3D radar market is categorized into long range, medium range, and short range. Among all these segments, medium range segment is anticipated to witness the fastest growth during the forecast period. These 3D radars are observing extensive applications in the defense domain and provide real-time information for surveillance resolutions without relying upon high pounding classifications. Furthermore, this segment is significantly contributing towards the growth of 3D radar market across the globe.


Insight by Platform Type

Based upon platform type, the 3D radar market across the globe is segmented into the ground, airborne and naval. Among all these segments, ground segment is anticipated to witness the fastest growth during the forecast period due to the increasing utilization of ground 3D radar to provide real-time information, threat evaluation, tactical surveillance and situational responsiveness are the key factors pertaining towards the growth of ground-based 3D radar thereby bolstering the growth of 3D radar market across the globe.




Industry Ecosystem

Globally industry players are leveraging market growth through the development of innovative solutions in 3D radar market worldwide. The vendors are extensively enhancing their offerings in a manner to provide radar surveillance offerings to their customers. Furthermore, it has been observed that the vendors for 3D radars are providing various solutions to users such as advanced technology for better delivery of images and the wider image interception.

The manufacturers of different types of airborne 3D radar are making efforts to develop specialized airborne 3D radar for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) as the use of airborne 3D radar in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) enables easy data collection of fast-changing terrains, such as snow slopes and active volcanoes.


The 3D radar ecosystem comprises airline component providers such as Northrop Grumman Corporation (US), Raytheon Company (US), Thales Group (France), Airbus Defense and Space (US), BAE Systems plc (UK), etc., and the manufacturers of different types of 3D radar such as Honeywell International Inc. (US), SAAB Group (Sweden), ELTA Systems Ltd. (Israel), Leonardo S.p.A. (Italy), Indra Sistemas, S.A. (Spain), etc.



References and resources also include:


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