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High-Frequency and Passive Radar Designs for Homeland Security Applications

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Abstract:

Abstract

Emerging homeland security applications require low-cost and fast, deployable, high-frequency (HF) radar systems and the ability to operate in challenging terrain environments. With the need to cover as many border and coastal areas as possible, taking advantages of available transmitter resources to track targets using passive radar technologies is yet another area of research of considerable interest. In this paper, we describe the development of an HF radar system that meets these operational challenges, and we also highlight some recent implementation of the passive radar technology for homeland security applications. Specifically, we describe the design of a novel, electrically small HF antenna system consisting of three helical elements, one connected to the feed port while the other two are folded arms terminated with switchable loads. The antenna is 0.90-m (<3 feet) high with a small ground disk of 0.60 m (∼2 feet) diameter. The antenna is self-resonant at multiple frequencies (5.7, 16, 20.5, and 27.7 MHz) and with input impedance values that can be easily matched to a 50-Ω coaxial feed. Values of the electrical size ka range from 0.44 at 30 MHz down to 0.08 at 5.7 MHz. The achieved bandwidths range from 1.4% up to 12% and associated efficiencies range from 66.2% to 76% within the HF band (3‐30 MHz). As for the operational requirement in challenging terrain environments, a setup in a hilltop-type environment with a slope terrain and surface roughness was considered. A propagation modeling and ray-tracing approach was used to evaluate the impact of such terrain conditions on the effective interelement spacing of an HF radar antenna array and the subsequent impact on its beamforming and beam steering performance. It is shown that while the effect of the slope on the effective interelement spacing of the array could be very significant, diffraction effects from surface roughness resulted in a much smaller, but significant, error of about 18°. Results from some initial work on the implementation of passive radar technology, with focus on addressing the bandwidth requirement to ensure practical resolution values, are also described. It is shown that signals from wide-band transmitters (e.g., High Definition Television [HDTV] signals) rather than those from radio stations are required to provide acceptable range resolution. These as well as simulation and experimental results of the antenna design, and results from beamforming simulations illustrating the effect of a rough hilltop terrain on the HF radar performance are described.

Keywords: HF radar; passive radar; propagation modeling; small antenna

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.4031/MTSJ.45.3.11

Publication date: 2011-05-01

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  • The Marine Technology Society Journal is the flagship publication of the Marine Technology Society. It publishes the highest caliber, peer-reviewed papers on subjects of interest to the society: marine technology, ocean science, marine policy and education. The Journal is dedicated to publishing timely special issues on emerging ocean community concerns while also showcasing general interest and student-authored works.
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