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Air-Search Radar

Air-search radar systems initially detect and determine the position, course, and speed of air targets in a relatively large area. The maximum range of air-search radar can exceed 300 miles, and the bearing coverage is a complete 360-degree circle. Air-search radar systems are usually divided into two categories, based on the amount of position information supplied. As mentioned earlier in this chapter, radar sets that provide only range and bearing information are referred to as two-dimensional, or 2D, radars. Radar sets that supply range, bearing, and height are called three-dimensional, or 3D, radars. (3D radar will be covered in the next section.) The coverage pattern of a typical 2D radar system is illustrated in figure 1-25. A typical 2D air-search radar antenna is shown in figure 1-26.

Figure 1-25. - 2D radar coverage pattern.

Figure 1-26. - 2D air-search radar.

Relatively low transmitter frequencies are used in 2D search radars to permit long-range transmissions with minimum attenuation. Wide pulse widths and high peak power are used to aid in detecting small objects at great distances. Low pulse-repetition rates are selected to permit greater maximum range. A wide vertical-beam width is used to ensure detection of objects from the surface to relatively high altitudes and to compensate for pitch and roll of own ship. The output characteristics of specific air-search radars are classified; therefore, they will not be discussed.

Air-search radar systems are used as early-warning devices because they can detect approaching enemy aircraft or missiles at great distances. In hostile situations, early detection of the enemy is vital to a successful defense against attack. Antiaircraft defenses in the form of shipboard guns, missiles, or fighter planes must be brought to a high degree of readiness in time to repel an attack. Range and bearing information, provided by air-search radars, used to initially position a fire-control tracking radar on a target. Another function of the air-search radar system is guiding combat air patrol (CAP) aircraft to a position suitable to intercept an enemy aircraft. In the case of aircraft control, the guidance information is obtained by the radar operator and passed to the aircraft by either voice radio or a computer link to the aircraft.

Height-Finding Search Radar

The primary function of a height-finding radar (sometimes referred to as a three-coordinate or 3D radar) is that of computing accurate ranges, bearings, and altitudes of aircraft targets detected by air-search radars. Height-finding radar is also used by the ship's air controllers to direct CAP aircraft during interception of air targets. Modern 3D radar is often used as the primary air-search radar (figure 1-27). This is because of its high accuracy and because the maximum ranges are only slightly less than those available from 2D radar.

Figure 1-27. - 3D air-search radar.

The range capability of 3D search radar is limited to some extent by an operating frequency that is higher than that of 2D radar. This disadvantage is partially offset by higher output power and a beam width that is narrower in both the vertical and horizontal planes.

The 3D radar system transmits several narrow beams to obtain altitude coverage and, for this reason, compensation for roll and pitch must be provided for shipboard installations to ensure accurate height information.

Applications of height-finding radars include the following:

  • Obtaining range, bearing, and altitude data on enemy aircraft and missiles to assist in the control of CAP aircraft
  • Detecting low-flying aircraft
  • Determining range to distant land masses
  • Tracking aircraft over land
  • Detecting certain weather phenomena
  • Tracking weather balloons
  • Providing precise range, bearing, and height information for fast, accurate initial positioning of fire-control tracking radars

Q.37 Air-search radar is divided into what two basic categories?answer.gif (214 bytes)
Q.38 What position data are supplied by 2D search radar?answer.gif (214 bytes)
Q.39 Why do 2D air-search radars use relatively low carrier frequencies and low pulse-repetition rates? answer.gif (214 bytes)
Q.40 Why is the range capability of 3D radar usually less than the range of 2D radar? answer.gif (214 bytes)

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