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Military Radars are critical sensors for national defense and security, from Land, Air, Naval to space operations


In an increasingly complex and unpredictable world, ensuring national defense and security is of paramount importance. Military radars have emerged as indispensable tools in safeguarding countries and their citizens from various threats across different operational domains. From land and air to naval and space operations, these sophisticated sensors play a pivotal role in providing early warning, situational awareness, and response capabilities. In this article, we explore how military radars are critical sensors that fortify our defense infrastructure and protect against potential threats.


Understanding Radars

Radar, is an 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.


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.


What distinguishes radar from optical and infrared sensing devices is its ability to detect faraway objects under adverse weather conditions and to determine their range, or distance, with precision.  Radar has many advantages compared to an attempt of visual observation: Radar is able to operate day or night, in lightness or darkness over a long-range; Radar is able to operate in all weathers, in fog and rain, it can even penetrate walls or layers of snow; Radar has very broad coverage; it is possible to observe the whole hemisphere; Radar detects and tracks moving objects, a high-resolution imaging is possible, that results in an object recognition; Radar can operate unmanned, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

For in depth understanding on  Radar   technology and applications please visit: Basic Principles and Applications of Radar Technology

Radar System

The RADAR system generally consists of a transmitter that produces an electromagnetic signal which is radiated into space by an antenna. When this signal strikes an object, it gets reflected or reradiated in many directions. This reflected or echo signal is received by the radar antenna which delivers it to the receiver, where it is processed to determine the geographical statistics of the object. Since most radar systems do not transmit and receive at the same time, a single antenna is often used on a time-shared basis for both transmitting and receiving.

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A receiver attached to the output element of the antenna extracts the desired reflected signals and (ideally) rejects those that are of no interest. For example, a signal of interest might be the echo from an aircraft. Signals that are not of interest might be echoes from the ground or rain, which can mask and interfere with the detection of the desired echo from the aircraft. The radar measures the location of the target in range and angular direction.


The range is determined by calculating the time taken by the signal to travel from the RADAR to the target and back. The target’s location is measured in angle, from the direction of the maximum amplitude echo signal, the antenna points to. To measure the range and location of moving objects, the Doppler Effect is used.  Through measurement of the location of a target at successive instants of time, the target’s recent track can be determined. Once this information has been established, the target’s future path can be predicted. In many surveillance radar applications, the target is not considered to be “detected” until its track has been established.


The essential parts of this system include the following.

A Transmitter: It can be a power amplifier like a Klystron, Travelling Wave Tube, or a power Oscillator like a Magnetron. The signal is first generated using a waveform generator and then amplified in the power amplifier.
Waveguides: The waveguides are transmission lines for transmission of the RADAR signals.
Antenna: The antenna used can be a parabolic reflector, planar arrays, or electronically steered phased arrays.
Duplexer: A duplexer allows the antenna to be used as a transmitter or a receiver. It can be a gaseous device that would produce a short circuit at the input to the receiver when the transmitter is working.
Receiver: It can be a superheterodyne receiver or any other receiver which consists of a processor to process the signal and detect it.
Threshold Decision: The output of the receiver is compared with a threshold to detect the presence of any object. If the output is below any threshold, the presence of noise is assumed.


The circuit components and other hardware of radar systems vary with the frequency used, and systems range in size from those small enough to fit in the palm of the hand to those so enormous that they would fill several football fields. Designers of next-gen military radar systems are under constant pressure to deliver enhanced capability to track and counter increasingly sophisticated threats, all at the lowest cost possible, while also factoring in ease of installation and upgrades.


Radars Applications

Radar originally was developed to meet the needs of the military services, and it continues to have critical applications for national defense purposes. For instance, radars are used to detect aircraft, missiles, artillery and mortar projectiles, ships, land vehicles, and satellites. In addition, radar controls and guides weapons; allows one class of target to be distinguished from another; aids in the navigation of aircraft and ships; and assists in reconnaissance and damage assessment.


Radars are used by armed forces for surveillance, to find targets and track their movements, and direct other weapons or countermeasures against them. Military radars are also used for navigation and as weather radars. Radars  are used by the Navy (coastal radars, ship-based radars), Air Force (weather navigation radar, airborne radar, precision approach radar), Army (perimeter surveillance radars, long-range surveillance radars, fixed and movable land radars), and in space applications.


Radar underwent rapid development during the 1930s and ’40s to meet the needs of the military. It is still widely employed by the armed forces, where many technological advances have originated. At the same time, radar has found an increasing number of important civilian applications, notably air traffic control, weather observation, remote sensing of the environment, aircraft and ship navigation, speed measurement for industrial applications and for law enforcement, space surveillance, and planetary observation.


Radar has proven to be an extraordinarily versatile technology with established uses now in vehicles, weather monitoring, aerial reconnaissance, security and even seeing through walls. Starting with the British Chain Home radar in the first integrated air defense system to the post war era air traffic control (ATC) systems, radar and microwave technology have fed on each other. Recent advances in this type of radar have been either mechanically positioned or multi-faceted 2D AESAs. The next generation ATC is moving away from radar for aircraft tracking, using Mode S ADS-B and GPS based cooperative tracking. The Multifunction Phased Array Radar (MPAR) will be used primarily for weather detection and tracking and to supplement the cooperative systems.


The FAA is also modernizing L-Band air route surveillance radars (ARSR). The design of a service life extension program that is being applied to the modernization of continental U.S. ARSR known as the long range radar (LRR) network. The LRR network consists of 69 L-Band radars that are used for the joint purposes of air traffic control and surveillance. The upgrades include new hardware and innovative signal processing algorithms. The upgraded radar consists of a solid-state transmitter, a digital receiver and a signal data processor. With
advanced signal processing algorithms, the upgraded radar system provides 200 mile coverage in natural interference environments while minimizing the false alarms. The radar has also been upgraded to enhance weather detection performance.


The proliferation of low cost systems and higher frequency millimeter wave bands with large bandwidth and limited range has allowed non-traditional roles for radar, such as ground penetration, smart vehicles, industrial monitoring, search and rescue and security of airport or port areas. The usage of millimeter wave radar systems has widened to include civil applications such as: Airborne radar for obstacle avoidance; Altimetry and landing aids; Automotive radar for collision avoidance; Driving safety support and autonomous vehicle control; Meteorological radars; Remote sensing applications and Medical imaging and diagnostic.


Recent advances use radar sensors to detect the vital signs of a human subject. A number of front-end architectures, detection methods, and system-level integration have been reported to improve detection accuracy and enhance system robustness. The advantages of noncontact vital sign detection draw attention in various applications such as health-care monitoring and rescue searching. Several portable systems and integrated circuits have been demonstrated recently. Integrating the radar chip to achieve compact size and lower power consumption, combined with signal processing techniques to increase detection accuracy, will be the future focus for researchers.


Radars Classification

Pulsed RADAR

This type is the most typical radar with a waveform consisting of repetitive short-duration pulses. Pulsed RADAR sends high power and high-frequency pulses towards the target object. It then waits for the echo signal from the object before another pulse is sent. The range and resolution of the RADAR depend on the pulse repetition frequency. 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. One is called moving-target indication (MTI) radar and the other is called pulse Doppler radar. Users of pulse radars include the Army, Navy, Air Force, FAA, USCG, NASA, Department of Commerce (DOC), Department of Energy (DOE), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Department of the Interior (DOI), National Science Foundation (NSF), and Department of Treasury.


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 low pulse repetition frequency (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. Almost all ground-based aircraft search and surveillance radar systems use some form of MTI. The Army, Navy, Air Force, FAA, USCG, NASA, and DOC are large users of MTI radars.

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In an MTI RADAR system, the received echo signals from the object are directed towards the mixer, where they are mixed with the signal from a stable local oscillator (STALO) to produce the IF signal.


Pulse Doppler Radar

As with the MTI system, the pulse Doppler radar is a type of pulse radar that utilizes the Doppler frequency shift of the echo signal to reject clutter and detect moving aircraft. It transmits high pulse repetition frequency to avoid Doppler ambiguities. The transmitted signal and the received echo signal are mixed in a detector to get the Doppler shift and the difference signal is filtered using a Doppler filter where the unwanted noise signals are rejected. Pulse Doppler radars are used by the Army, Navy, Air Force, FAA, USCG, NASA, and DOC.


However, it operates with a much higher PRR than the MTI radar. (A high-PRR pulse Doppler radar, for example, might have a PRR of 100 kHz, as compared to an MTI radar with PRR of perhaps 300 Hz) The difference of PRR’s gives rise to distinctly different behavior.  The MTI radar uses a low PRR in order to obtain an unambiguous range measurement. This causes the measurement of the target’s radial velocity (as derived from the Doppler frequency shift) to be highly ambiguous and can result in missing some target detections. On the other hand, the pulse Doppler radar operates with a high PRR so as to have no ambiguities in the measurement of radial velocity. A high PRR, however, causes a highly ambiguous range measurement. The true range is resolved by transmitting multiple waveforms with different PRR’s.


Block Diagram of Pulsed Doppler RADAR

Continuous-Wave (CW) Radar

The continuous wave RADAR doesn’t measure the range of the target but rather the rate of change of range by measuring the Doppler shift of the return signal. In a CW RADAR electromagnetic radiation is emitted instead of pulses.


Since a CW radar transmits and receives at the same time, it must depend on the Doppler frequency shift produced by a moving target to separate the weak echo signal from the strong transmitted signal. A simple CW radar can detect targets, measure their radial velocity (from the Doppler frequency shift), and determine the direction of arrival of the received signal. However, a more complicated waveform is required for finding the range of the target. Almost all Federal agencies used some type of CW radar for applications ranging from target tracking to weapons fire-control to vehicle-speed detection.


Frequency-modulated Continuous-wave (FM-CW) Radar

If the frequency of a CW radar is continually changed with time, the frequency of the echo signal will differ from that transmitted and the difference will be proportional to the range of the target. Accordingly, measuring the difference between the transmitted and received frequencies gives the range to the target. In such a frequency-modulated continuous-wave radar, the frequency is generally changed in a linear fashion, so that there is an up-and-down alternation in frequency. The most common form of FM-CW radar is the radar altimeter used on aircraft or a satellite to determine their height above the surface of the Earth. Phase modulation, rather than frequency modulation, of the CW signal has also been used to obtain range measurement. The primary users of these radars are the Army, Navy, Air Force, NASA, and USCG.


Bistatic Radar

This type of radar system includes a Tx-transmitter & an Rx- receiver that is divided through a distance that is equivalent to the distance of the estimated object. The transmitter & the receiver are situated at a similar position is called a monastic radar whereas the very long-range surface to air & air to air military hardware uses the bistatic radar.


Doppler Radar

It is a special type of radar that uses the Doppler Effect to generate data velocity regarding a target at a particular distance. This can be obtained by transmitting electromagnetic signals in the direction of an object so that it analyzes how the action of the object has affected the returned signal’s frequency. This change will give very precise measurements for the radial component of an object’s velocity within relation toward the radar. The applications of these radars involve different industries like meteorology, aviation, healthcare, etc.


Doppler weather radars

Doppler weather radars are remote sensing instruments and are capable of detecting particle type (rain, snow, hail, insects, etc), intensity, and motion. Radar data can be used to determine the structure of storms and to help with predicting severity of storms.

Doppler radar is a specific type of radar that uses the Doppler effect to gather velocity data from the particles that are being measured. For example, a Doppler radar transmits a signal that gets reflected off raindrops within a storm. The reflected radar signal is measured by the radar’s receiver with a change in frequency. That frequency shift is directly related to the motion of the raindrops.


Airborne Moving-Target Indication (AMTI) Radar:

An MTI radar in an aircraft encounters problems not found in a ground-based system of the same kind because the large undesired clutter echoes from the ground and the sea have a Doppler frequency shift introduced by the motion of the aircraft carrying the radar. The AMTI radar, however, compensates for the Doppler frequency shift of the clutter, making it possible to detect moving targets even though the radar unit itself is in motion. AMTI radars are primarily used by the Army, Navy, Air Force, and the USCG.


Military Air Traffic Control (ATC), Instrumentation 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.


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. The Army, Navy, Air Force, NASA, and DOE are users of high-range resolution radars.


Pulse-Compression Radar

This radar is similar to a high-range resolution radar but overcomes peak power and long-range limitations by obtaining the resolution of a short pulse but with the energy of a long pulse. It does this by modulating either the frequency or the phase of a long, high-energy pulse. The frequency or phase modulation allows the long pulse to be compressed in the receiver by an amount equal to the reciprocal of the signal bandwidth. The Army, Navy, Air Force, NASA, and DOE are users of pulse-compression radars.

Imaging Radars

Originally, radar was used to detect the presence and location of reflecting targets. The image most radar operators were familiar with was the plan position indicator (PPI). In the analog displays, operators were able to do some level of target classification. As they have developed, however, radars have been able to image terrain and identify targets as well. While millimeter wave radars can directly generate images, most radar images are generated by forming a synthetic aperture, which requires some level of relative motion of the target or platform.


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.


Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR):

This radar is employed on an aircraft or satellite and generally its antenna beam is oriented perpendicular to its direction of travel. The SAR achieves high resolution in angle (cross range) by storing the sequentially received signals in memory over a period of time and then adding them as if they were from a large array antenna. The output is a high-resolution image of a scene. The Army, Navy, Air Force, NASA, and NOAA are primary users of SAR radars.


Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar (ISAR):

In many respects, an ISAR is similar to SAR, except that it obtains cross-range resolution by using Doppler frequency shift that results from target movements relative to the radar. It is usually used to obtain an image of a target. ISAR radars are used primarily by the Army, Navy, Air Force, and NASA.


Side-Looking Airborne Radar (SLAR):

This variety of airborne radar employs a large side-looking antenna (i.e., one whose beam is perpendicular to the aircraft’s line of flight) and is capable of high-range resolution. (The resolution in cross range is not as good as can be obtained with SAR, but it is simpler than the latter and is acceptable for some applications.) SLAR generates map-like images of the ground and permits detection of ground targets. This radar is used primarily by the Army, Navy, Air Force, NASA, and the USCG.


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. Tracking radars are primarily used by the Army, Navy, Air Force, NASA, and DOE.


Track-While-Scan (TWS) Radar: There are two different TWS radars. One is more or less the conventional air surveillance radar with a mechanically rotating antenna. Target tracking is done from observations made from one rotation to another. The other TWS radar is a radar whose antenna rapidly scans a small angular sector to extract the angular location of a target. The Army, Navy, Air Force, NASA, and FAA are primary user of TWS radars.


3-D Radar

In a 3D radar system, measurements of all three space coordinates are made within a radar system Conventional air surveillance radar measures the location of a target in two dimensions-range and azimuth. The elevation angle, from which target height can be derived, also can be determined. The so-called 3-D radar is an air surveillance radar that measures range in a conventional manner but that has an antenna which is mechanically or electronically rotated about a vertical axis to obtain the azimuth angle of a target and which has either fixed multiple beams in elevation or a scanned pencil beam to measure its elevation angle.


3D radars having pencil beams are rotated for scanning purposes. After each scanning rotation, the antenna elevation is shifted to the next sound. This process is further repeated on many angles to scan the entire volume of air around the radar within its maximum range.


There are other types of radar (such as electronically scanned phased arrays and tracking radars) that measure the target location in three dimensions, but a radar that is properly called 3-D is an air surveillance system that measures the azimuth and elevation angles as just described. The use of 3-D radars is primarily by the Army, Navy, Air Force, NASA, FAA, USCG, and DOE. 3D radars are now replacing 2D radars mostly in the defense and meteorological industries.


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.


High Frequency Over-the-Horizon (HF OTH) Radar

This radar operates in the high frequency (HF) portion of the electromagnetic spectrum (3-30 MHz) to take advantage of the refraction of radio waves by the ionosphere that allows OTH ranges of up to approximately 2,000 nautical miles. HF OTH can detect aircraft, ballistic missiles, ships, and ocean-wave effects. The Navy and Air Force use HF OTH radars.


Rising Use of Passive Radars

Passive radars are gaining traction in the market as they are less expensive and more efficient. These types of radars comprise of a class of radar systems that detect and track objects by processing reflections from non-cooperative sources of illumination, such as commercial and communication signals. They use existing electromagnetic signals from the atmosphere to support imaging and tracking capabilities compared to the regular/active radar that sends out electromagnetic signals to the target and receives reflected signals from the target. Passive radars use ambient radio signals for tracking and surveillance and are less expensive to operate.


Integration of Radars and GPS

Radar manufacturers are increasingly integrating GPS with civil radars to improve tracking accuracy in security and navigation systems. The integration of radars and GPS in security systems offers automatic target following, friend or foe tracking and monitoring of areas in darkness. For instance, PureTech Systems integrated radar and GPS technologies in its automated outdoor surveillance system, PureActiv, that provides security professionals with accurate and reliable surveillance in indoor, outdoor and remote environments. In navigation systems, radar detection technology and GPS are being integrated to provide drivers with information related to speed limits, red light signals, 3D mapping of surroundings, lane assist and others.


Military radars

Military radars are an essential component of modern warfare. These sophisticated instruments allow armed forces to detect, track, and identify potential threats, ranging from enemy aircraft and missiles to ground vehicles and ships. Military radars use advanced technology to provide a comprehensive view of the battlefield, giving commanders critical information needed to make informed decisions.

Military radars come in a variety of sizes and types, ranging from small, portable units to massive fixed installations. The most common types of military radars are air defense, ground surveillance, and naval radars. Each type has its own unique features and capabilities, allowing them to perform specific tasks.

Air defense radars are designed to detect and track aircraft. These radars can provide information on an aircraft’s location, speed, altitude, and direction of travel. They are often used in conjunction with surface-to-air missiles to intercept and destroy incoming aircraft or missiles.

Ground surveillance radars are used to detect and track ground vehicles, personnel, and other targets on the battlefield. These radars can be used to provide early warning of an enemy attack, identify the location of enemy forces, and monitor troop movements.

Naval radars are used to detect and track ships and submarines. These radars can provide information on a vessel’s location, speed, heading, and size. They are used to protect naval vessels from enemy attacks and to provide intelligence on enemy naval activities.

Military radars use a variety of advanced technologies to detect and track targets. These technologies include pulse-Doppler radar, phased-array radar, and synthetic aperture radar (SAR). Pulse-Doppler radar uses a combination of pulse transmission and frequency modulation to determine an object’s velocity, while phased-array radar uses multiple antenna elements to create a directional beam of radar energy. SAR, on the other hand, uses a moving antenna to create a high-resolution image of the terrain or target.

Military radars are also equipped with advanced signal processing capabilities that can filter out noise and interference, allowing for more accurate target detection. They can also integrate data from multiple sensors, such as cameras and infrared sensors, to provide a more complete picture of the battlefield.

In addition to their battlefield applications, military radars are also used for civilian purposes, such as weather forecasting and air traffic control. The technology used in military radars has also found its way into everyday consumer products, such as automotive collision avoidance systems and smart home security systems.


Military and Security Operations

Military radar systems can be divided into three main classes based on platform: land-based, shipborne, and airborne. Within these broad classes, there are several other categories based mainly on the operational use of the radar system. The applications include surveillance‐based radar systems such as ground and area surveillance radars, air surveillance radar and ground penetration radar and tracking based radar systems such as weapon locating radar, ballistic missile defence radar, mortar or shell‐tracking radar and so on.

  1. Land Operations

In land operations, military radars are instrumental in detecting and tracking ground-based threats, including enemy troop movements, vehicles, and artillery. Ground surveillance radars deployed along borders and strategic locations enable forces to monitor potential infiltration attempts and maintain heightened vigilance. By providing real-time information about hostile activities, these radars help commanders make informed decisions, enhance troop safety, and prevent surprise attacks.

Additionally, Counter Rocket, Artillery, and Mortar (C-RAM) radars are essential in protecting military installations and populated areas from incoming projectiles. These radars swiftly detect and track incoming rockets and artillery rounds, enabling rapid response measures such as activating alert systems and launching counter-fire to neutralize the threats.

  1. Air Operations

In the realm of air operations, military radars are deployed in multiple ways:

a. Air Defense Radars: These radars are tasked with monitoring and identifying potential airborne threats, including enemy aircraft, drones, and missiles. Early warning radars, such as Over-the-Horizon Radars (OTHR), can detect incoming aerial threats at extended ranges, providing valuable reaction time for air defense systems.

b. Air Traffic Control Radars: Military air traffic control radars ensure the safe and efficient movement of friendly aircraft during missions, exercises, and humanitarian operations. They help manage airspace congestion, prevent mid-air collisions, and facilitate mission planning.

c. Ground-Controlled Intercept (GCI) Radars: GCI radars are used to guide fighter aircraft toward hostile targets, enhancing their targeting accuracy and overall effectiveness.

  1. Naval Operations

In naval operations, radars are critical for maritime surveillance, maritime traffic control, and anti-ship warfare:

a. Surface Search Radars: These radars help naval vessels detect and track other ships, potential threats, and even low-flying aircraft over the water surface. They are vital for maintaining situational awareness and securing territorial waters.

b. Fire Control Radars: Integral to naval weapon systems, fire control radars provide accurate targeting data for ship-based missiles and guns, ensuring successful engagements against enemy vessels and aircraft.

c. Perimeter Defense Radars: Naval bases and port facilities utilize radars to monitor approaching vessels and secure their perimeters from potential security breaches.

  1. Space Operations

In the realm of space operations, military radars are utilized for space surveillance and monitoring space debris:

a. Space Surveillance Radars: These radars track satellites, space debris, and potential threats to critical space assets. They assist in predicting collisions, ensuring safe satellite maneuvering, and safeguarding vital space infrastructure.

b. Anti-Satellite (ASAT) Radars: While space has mostly been used for peaceful purposes, the proliferation of space technologies has led to the development of ASAT radars to defend against potential hostile actions targeting satellites.


Land-Based Air Defense Radars.

These radars cover all fixed, mobile, and transportable 2-D and 3-D systems used in the air defense mission.


Battlefield, Missile Control, and Ground Surveillance Radars.

These radars also include battlefield surveillance, tracking, fire-control, and weapons-locating radar systems, whether fixed, mobile, transportable, or man-portable.


Naval and Maritime Radars

Ship-mounted radars for air and surface target detection and track were some of the earliest applications of radar. Naval and Coastal Surveillance, and Navigation Radars. These radars consist of shipborne surface search and air search radars (2-D and 3-D) as well as land-based coastal surveillance radars. Naval Fire-Control Radars. These are shipborne radars that are part of a radar-based fire-control and weapons guidance systems.


International Maritime Organization (IMO) requirements for S- and X-Band radars for maritime safety make this the largest user of small magnetron radars. Recent changes introduced by the IMO to the regulations covering S-Band radar for commercial shipping are deliberately designed to encourage the introduction of “new technology” radar sensors.


For Naval air defense, radars have evolved to multi-faceted three, four and six face phased array variants of the Aegis AN/SPY-1, developed for China, Japan, Australia, the Netherlands and the U.S. Israeli and Australian “Aegis” AESAs have an analog-to-digital converter (ADC) at every element using rapidly advancing GaN technology. The next generation of U.S. Navy radars is the DDG-1000 and CVN 78 Dual Band Radar (DBR) being developed by Raytheon. This radar suite is a single, integrated radar system combining the AN/SPY-3 Multi-Function Radar at X-Band and AN/SPY-4 Volume Search Radar at S-Band


Airborne Radars

Radar requirements and design adjust to meet the mission needs and the constraints of the operating platform. Airborne systems typically seek the best performance possible in a constrained size, weight and power (SWAP) envelope operating in a severe environment, so they tend to use the most advanced technology.

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). Airborne early warning (AEW) aircraft benefit from a wide horizon at high altitude but must have sophisticated signal processing to cope with clutter and a vast surveillance volume. They use a mix of hybrid mechanical/AESA scanning
technologies. Newest are the UHF AN/APY-9 on the E-2D and the all AESA Multi-Role Electronic Scanned Array (MESA) E-7A Wedgetail. The E-2C/D Hawkeye and E-3 AWACS AEW radar platforms are most plentiful.


Airborne Fire-Control Radars.

Includes those airborne radar systems for weapons fire-control (missiles or guns) and weapons aiming. Fighter attack radars on newer aircraft are all AESA multifunction systems, typically at X-Band. These radars are being retrofitted onto older airframes, such as the
F-15E, to keep them competitive. Radars on stealth aircraft such as the AN/APG-81 on the F-35 and the F-22’s AN/APG-77 must be designed so that they do not compromise the host platform radar cross section (RCS).


Russia’s military radar industry has advanced considerably since the end of the Cold War, largely resulting from access to Western technologies in the global market. This has seen significant advances in basic technology, especially in such key areas such as radar signal processing, radar data processing, embedded software, GaAs semiconductors for low noise receivers and HEMT transistors used in AESAs. This sustained improvement in basic technology has been reflected in ongoing growth in the capabilities of the various radars deployed in Russian Air Force and export variants of the Sukhoi Flanker fighter.


UAV radars

Unmanned aircraft carry mission radars to collect tactical data. An extreme case is China’s Divine Eagle, a high altitude UAV designed to detect stealth aircraft at long range, using special purpose radars. It has seven radars, including UHF and X-Band airborne moving target indicator (AMTI) AESA radars on the front and two UHF and X-Band AMTI, synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and ground moving target indicator (GMTI) AESA radars on the twin booms. There are two other UHF/X-Band AMTI AESA radars on both sides of the engine nozzles and two more on the end of the booms.


On the GA-ASI MQ-9 Predator B, the mission radar sensor is a Ku-Band AN/APY-8A Lynx SAR/GMTI radar, just redesigned with enhanced capabilities for ground and maritime surveillance. Thales offers a smaller, lighter weight I-Master radar with lesser performance.
An additional radar capability required by UAVs is sense and avoid (SAA) radar to allow them to exercise due regard for other aircraft in international waters and avoid collisions with other non-cooperative aircraft. NavAir has restarted the MQ-4C SAA effort. GA-ASI is providing an SAA radar for NAS testing by a team including the FAA, NASA and Honeywell. The Army is installing a ground-based SAA radar at its training bases in the U.S.



Spaceborne Radar Systems.

Radar is one of the primary sensors for observation of earth and space exploration. Spaceborne SAR is the only imaging sensor technology that can provide all-weather, day-and-night and high resolution images on a global scale. Considerable effort has been applied to spaceborne radar (SBR) research for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions over the last 30 years. The Department of Defense (DOD) seems to be expressing new interest in SBR.


SAR data are used for a multitude of applications ranging from geosciences and climate change research, environmental monitoring, 2D and 3D mapping, change detection, 4D mapping (space and time) and security-related applications up to planetary exploration. With the launch of the SAR satellites TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X, COSMO-SkyMed constellation, Radarsat-2 as well as Sentinel-1a, a new class of SAR satellites was introduced with image resolution in the meter regime. However, a paradigm shift is taking place in spaceborne SAR systems. By means of the development of new digital beam forming and waveform diversity technologies in combination with large reflector antennas, future SAR systems will outperform the imaging capacity of current systems by at least one order of magnitude. In addition, there are efforts to apply SAR payloads on nano and micro-satellites.


Since the beginning of the space age, radars have been used for tracking space vehicles, satellites, space debris and ballistic missiles. In the last few years, these capabilities have advanced mainly using extremely large AESAs for major space powers, spreading to more countries such as Israel and India.


Military Radar Market

The global military radar industry was valued at $13.9 billion in 2021 and is estimated to generate $25.1 billion by 2031, witnessing a CAGR of 6.5% from 2022 to 2031.


Rise in investment to strengthen the capabilities of air defense, technological advancements in military radar, rise in purchase of combat aircrafts, increasing naval expenditure by developed economies, high capability of military radars to detect low-flying aircrafts, land vehicles, marine vessels, personnel, and avian targets which make them ideal for accurate surveillance, and modernization of military equipment fuel the growth of the global military radar market. However, huge investment in early stage and stringent cross-border trading policies hinder the global market growth. On the other hand, rise in geopolitical tensions and increase in R&D activities in military radar for airborne platform present new growth opportunities for the global military radar market in the coming years.


The military radar market growth is expected to be hit by the COVID-19 pandemic as economic downturn in most parts of the world has forced countries to prioritize their spending. For example, in April 2020, the Indian Finance Ministry indicated cuts in defense budget that can go as high as 40%, slashing the USD 73.65 billion allocation earmarked by the government for 2020-21 by a substantial margin.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the aerospace and defense companies faced an unmitigated disruption, affecting the global military radar market. The defense sector faced disruptions in the supply chain globally. The companies located in Covid-19-affected countries and those reliant on supply chains located in impacted countries were badly hit by the pandemic. Due to the global disturbance in the supply chain, some of the defense programs also faced slight cost escalations and interruptions in the short term. The pandemic also impacted the growth opportunities of various regions negatively. Reduced military expenditures will lead to delays in projects and even cancellation of military modernization programs planned, halting the adoption of advanced technologies such as military radars

However, the military radar market recovered post the pandemic. The defense unit is likely to remain stable and grow as a majority of countries have not lowered their budget for defense and are committed to support their military capabilities.


Market Segments

Based on the platform, the market is divided into airborne radar, ground radar, and naval radar.


Airborne Radar Segment will Register the Highest CAGR During the Forecast Period. The Global Military Airborne Radar market values US$2.9 billion in 2019, and will grow at a CAGR of 3.84%, to value US$4.2billion by 2029. The cumulative market for global expenditure on airborne radars will reach US$36 billion over the forecast period. Expenditure on the sector is anticipated to be driven by the ever growing need of early threat detection and situational awareness, technological innovations in the industry, adaptability to new platforms, internal and external security threats, territorial disputes, and modernization initiatives undertaken by armed forces across the world.


Over the years, the number of aerial attacks, globally, has increased and has led to significant investments on airborne radars. The increasing use of stealth aircraft and tactical UAVs is likely to support the growth of this segment even during the forecast period. The cost-effectiveness and ease of operations of unmanned platforms, when compared to manned platforms, have aided the rapid adoption of these unmanned systems in defense applications (for both surveillance and attack operations). Unmanned platforms are largely being deployed by military organizations in conflict regions across the world. Also, Tethered Aerostat Radar Systems are being used as a low-level airborne ground surveillance system in few countries. Such large-scale investments in R&D and the procurement of unmanned systems will continue to drive the military airborne radar market.


The land radar/ ground-based radar segment is anticipated to dominate the market in 2019 on account of rising cross-border conicts and geopolitical disputes among several countries. The airborne radar segment is expected to grow at higher CAGR during the forecast period owing to the rising demand for UAV radar and increasing procurement of ghter jets in developing countries such as India.


Radar systems are crucial in the detection of bombs and landmines that are not visible to the naked eye. One of the key products witnessing high demand in the global military radar marketplace is lightweight radars. High demand for these radars can be attributable to immense potential for their use in the domestic defense sector. Additionally, the global military radar market is currently being driven by increase in spending by countries to strengthen their border and domestic defense forces.


Generally, most drones are very small in size and cannot be detected by the radars. Moreover, due to the rising adoption of private or commercial drones, the radar systems are unable to handle such a large number of targets at the same time. To avoid overloading the system, the inbuilt filters display only more important targets, and the rest is filtered out. The inability to detect drones and the rising adoption of miniature drones for surveillance purposes is expected to hamper the market growth.


The short-range segment to dominate the market during the forecast period

Based on range, the short-range segment contributed to the largest share of nearly half of the global military radar market in 2021, and is expected to maintain its leadership in terms of revenue during the forecast period. This is because governments across the world are investing heavily in short-range systems for better connectivity and capturing things clearer in future space missions and communication. In response to this, leading companies are creating innovative short-range radars which enable 360-degree surround-view for military and naval applications. However, the long range segment is projected to witness the fastest CAGR of 7.9% from 2022 to 2031. The segment is driven by high-end defense applications, electronic defense systems, and off-site long-range radar machinery.


The antenna segment to grab the largest revenue during the forecast period

Based on component, the antenna segment contributed to the largest share of more than two-fifths of the global military radar market in 2021, and is expected to maintain a noteworthy revenue growth during the forecast period. Antenna is the largest segment in global military radar market as the defense industry is always evolving, and armed forces need next-generation defense systems. Currently, defense forces use an active phased array type of antenna that offer a complete image of the area under surveillance. This has led to the rising demand for antenna in military radar across the world. However, the duplexer segment is projected to witness the fastest CAGR of 10.2% from 2022 to 2031. There is a rise in demand for duplexers in military electronic devices for airborne communication, underwater communication, and ground-based communication as they offer bi-directional communication.

High Cost Involved in Development of Radar Systems to Hinder Market Growth

The military and space radars need to be built for severe weather conditions, and hence the research and development activities of these radars involve high costs. Moreover, due to the economic slowdown and outbreak of COVID-19, the cost of spare parts and other components
has increased. European countries such as the U.K and Russia have decreased their defense spending owing to the economic crisis, which is anticipated to hamper the market growth.


Technology trends

In the automotive field, radars have now become standard equipment. Following more stringent test scenarios, two trends are emerging. One consists of moving forward with imaging radar capable of more accurately describing the scene in front of and around the car. The other is to increase the number of sensors around the car and coordinate it to improve scene perception.


In the military field, the need for improved survivability, low probability of intercept and longer detection range has oriented the industry towards active antenna arrays using solid state technologies. Indeed, the possibility to use more integrated and lighter devices together with the advanced capabilities offered by multiple beam shaping and steering, for example, motivated the transition from vacuum tubes to solid state solutions.


The radar manufacturers are focused on developing and innovating more precise radar systems. The market is shifting towards the adoption of modern active electronically scanned array radars. These types of radars can be controlled with software to change and optimize the targets without making any modications to the hardware.


Developments in solid-state technology such as Gallium Nitride have given birth to a new generation of AESA radars. The next-generation radars such as Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor (LTAMDS) developed by Raytheon and Gallium Nitride (GaN) AESA radar developed by SAAB AB have long-range and better target detection capabilities. Rise in the research and development (R&D) expenditure and new product development backings the demand for new radar technologies. With evolving electronic and cyber battleelds, the demand for next-generation radars is increasing and is expected to drive the growth of the


In both cases, a strong emphasis on signal processing and computing is emerging, while cost issues particularly matter in automotive. Multiple questions have been raised about where to move the signal processing and how better to exploit radar sensor inputs. This will likely contribute to a major transformation of the automotive radar industry.


Nevertheless, one of the most game-changing evolutions is the potential acceptance of radar for human machine interfaces (HMIs) through penetration in consumer electronics, where cost, integration and resolution are most challenging.


February 2020 – Northrop Grumman was awarded a modication contract worth USD 262.3 million by the U.S. Air Force to provide 90 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radars for the USAF’s F-16 aircraft fleet. June 2020 – Raytheon Technologies was awarded a contract worth USD 2.3 billion by the U.S. Missile Defense Agency to produce and supply seven gallium nitride-based AN/TPY-2 radars for Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD). These X-Band radars are used to visualize ballistic missile threats.


The United States and Israel are the two key countries in terms of both production and operation of unmanned platforms and associated components. Based on region, the market in North America was the largest in 2021, accounting for nearly half of the global military radar market, and is likely to maintain its dominance during the forecast timeframe. This is because the region has witnessed major defense-related sanctions, which heightens the demand for military radars for use in national and international defense forces. The U.S. is one of the strongest military forces in the world and is a key supplier of military radars to the global market. Moreover, it is home to a huge number of manufacturing companies operating at global level.


Currently, several countries in the Middle East and Asia (China, India, Iran, and Pakistan) are also spending on the indigenous development of UAVs and associated components for military applications. As of 2018, North America holds the major share in the military radar market. However, rising political tensions in Asia and the Middle East will result in countries based in these regions to procure and modernize their existing radar capabilities in the next few years.  China, India, and Saudi Arabia are likely to generate the highest demand for military radars in the next few years.


However, the market in Asia-Pacific is likely to show the fastest CAGR of 8.1% during the forecast period. This is due to China’sJapan’s, and India’s growing spending on defense products. The defense spending in Asia-Pacic is on the rise due to the rise in border disputes & geopolitical tensions in countries such as China and India, which has led to the increasing demand for advanced threat detection systems in the region. This is anticipated to oer numerous growth opportunities for investors in the market. Moreover, the changing relationship between China and the rest of the world will stimulate opportunities and competition in the global market.


Europe, which is the worst-hit region by the COVID-19 pandemic, is also expected to grow substantially owing to the rising military modernization programs. The demand is expected to come from countries such as Spain, Germany and others, where increase in military expenditure has been observed year-over-year. For example, HENSOLDT, a German defense electronics and sensor company, has signed a contract with Airbus Defense and Space to provide all new AESA Radars for German and Spanish eet of Euro ghters. The contract is worth of USD 1.70 billion, under which the ghter aircraft radar components such as digital multi-channel receiver, transmitter and antenna receiver modules will be sourced to the 130 aircraft.


The global military airborne radar market is anticipated to be dominated by North America and is projected to reach cumulative monetary value of US$14.5 billion by 2029. Overall, the Asia Pacific region is projected to be the second largest spender in the military radar market over the forecast period.


North America is anticipated to dominate the global market in 2019 and is valued at USD 9.74 Billion. Programs and initiatives such as the three dimensional expeditionary long-range radar and the air and missile defense radar are expected to encourage growth in the market. The U.S. has one of the most powerful military forces in the world and spends heavily on defense vessels, creating conducive growth climate for the defense industry. Moreover, the U.S-based companies such as Lockheed Martin, The Boeing Company, and Northrop Grumman Corporation are some of the largest organizations operating in the market for military radars.


Competitive Landscape

The market is highly fragmented and depends on the government’s long-term contracts. Innovation is a major strategy adopted by these players to maintain their market dominance. Few players have also formed partnerships and acquired smaller electronics firms to enlarge their product portfolio, as well as to expand into a new market. Technical expertise and investment in R&D are some of the factors that are expected to help the players expand their market presence.


Some of the prominent players in the military radar market are Applied Radar, Inc. (USA), BAE Systems plc (UK), FLIR Systems, Inc. (USA), Harris Corporation (USA), Honeywell International, Inc. (USA), Indra Sistemas, S.A. (Spain), Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (Israel), Leonardo DRS (USA), Lockheed Martin Corporation (USA), MACOM (USA), Northrop Grumman Corporation (UK), Raytheon Company (USA). Reutech Radar Systems (South Africa), Rockwell Collins (USA), Saab Group (Sweden), Telephonics Corporation (USA), Terma A/S (Denmark), and Thales Group (France)


March 2020 –India has been awarded a USD 40 million defense deal to deliver four military radars built by Bharat Electronics Limited to Armenia. This deal is expected to boost India’s defense sector and create opportunities for Latin America, the Middle East, and
Southeast Asia markets.


In conclusion, military radars are a vital component of modern warfare, providing critical information to commanders and helping to protect troops from enemy attacks. The technology used in military radars is constantly evolving, with new innovations allowing for more accurate and comprehensive detection and tracking capabilities. As such, military radars will continue to play a critical role in ensuring the safety and security of armed forces around the world.



Military radars have evolved into indispensable sensors that bolster national defense and security across various operational domains. From detecting ground-based threats in land operations to providing early warning against airborne threats in air operations, and from safeguarding maritime interests in naval operations to monitoring space assets in space operations, these radars offer a comprehensive approach to safeguarding a nation’s interests.

As technology continues to advance, military radars will become even more sophisticated, providing enhanced capabilities for threat detection, identification, and response. Investing in research, development, and deployment of cutting-edge radar systems will remain crucial to staying ahead of adversaries and securing our future in an increasingly dynamic and complex global landscape. Through the continued integration of military radars into our defense infrastructure, nations can ensure the safety and security of their citizens while deterring potential aggressors.


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