Richard Mumford, MWJ International Editor
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Former Editor Richard Mumford's archived blog postings are available here. Serving as MWJ’s liaison to the international microwave community for more than 17 years, Richard filed his monthly international report and contributed articles from our London office.

Aerospace and Defense Channel

Military Radar 2017

August 31, 2017

Military Radar 2017, which took place in London, U.K. from 22 to 24 August, offered an insight into the operational, political and market complexities of the application of radar for threat detection, surveillance etc, as well as focusing on the specific technologies and systems being developed to meet the ever changing challenges. Not forgetting, providing the opportunity for networking and interaction.

As the electromagnetic spectrum grows ever more cluttered, continued domain awareness demands agile and adaptive systems, which can exploit multiple frequencies to secure an accurate surveillance picture. Therefore, Military Radar 2017 set out to identify the critical improvements to radar functionality. Key to the programme was an update on progress towards cognitive radar, together with the risks and benefits of adopting multi-system technologies.

There was significant emphasis on Electronic Warfare (EW), cognitive radar, passive radar, advances in ELINT and the increased use and detection of UAVs. Managing size, weight and power (SWaP) challenges were addressed for capability development, reflective of the need to mount radar on ever-smaller airborne platforms.

The event began on Tuesday 22 August with a Pre-Conference Workshop where Brian Lihani, Chief, Aerospace Warning Branch, HQ NORAD, U.S.A., examined the critical operational requirements of an effective multi-system radar, the role of which included counter-battery and air defence, with integrated communications, EW and ELINT capability. The workshop provided a unique opportunity to establish the specifications of a platform which would increase coverage, speed up response and streamline reconnaissance and surveillance.

Lihani also commenced proceeding on the first day of the conference on Wednesday 23 August where he continued to address the issue of integration in his presentation titled, Identifying and Tracking Emerging Threats in Complex and Congested Operating Environments, which considered the operational requirements of a multi-system ‘super radar’ and combining the functions of several platforms in order to reduce cost, maximise coverage and enhance threat management.

Similarly, on Thursday 24 August, Russell Wright, Director, Long Range Radar, Customs and Border Protection, US Department of Homeland Security offered a broad operational perspective when he considered, Applying Radar Solutions in the Non-military Space to Enforce Internal Security and Border Protection. He focused on how understanding radar can be used more effectively to support civilian-lead border protection and security and the development of a system of systems to enhance domain awareness; integrating radar within the broader internal security apparatus to clarify the operational picture.

With a broad operation perspective given at the beginning of each day there was the scope for further presentations to delve into the technological development of radar and radar systems, many of which utilised RF and microwave technology. In particular there was the opportunity to get an insight into the work being carried out at universities and research centres.

The conference Chairman was Professor Clayton Stewart, Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, University College London (UCL) who also gave a presentation titled: Towards the Practical Application of Cognitive Radar Systems.

From the academic sector Cranfield University was doubly represented. The university’s Dr Alessio Balleri, Radar Specialist, Sensors Department, considered, Utilising Phased Array to Enhance Missile Seeking and Overcoming the Challenges of an Emerging 3D Technology, which identified the technological challenges presented by 3D missile seekers to ensure the ongoing development of an applicable technology. His Cranfield colleague, Ioannis Vagias, Radar Lecturer and Specialist in Electronic Attack, tackled the subject of UAV Susceptibility and Self-Protection that aimed to prove that RF expendable countermeasures are an effective means to protect UAVs from known threats, through the use of prediction and simulation tools to estimate the UAV RF signature.

The electromagnetic spectrum continues to be a battleground between radar systems developers on the one hand and ELINT developers on the other, which Professor David Stupples, Professor of Electronic and Radio Systems, City University London, addressed in his presentation titled: Making use of Emerging ELINT Technologies to Detect and locate ne Radar System Developments. It covered, emerging LPI and modulation technologies for defence radars, the location of radar targets hidden in noise and co-channel interference drone-based surveillance sensors and real-time integration of ELINT processed data with EA, EP, and ES systems.

Tackling the electromagnetic spectrum from a different angle was Asif Anwar, Director of Strategic Technologies Practice, Strategy Analytics who many Microwave Journal readers and attendees at European Microwave Week will know as the presenter of the Defence, Security & Space Forum Lunch & Learn Session, which he will be doing again on 11 October in Nuremberg. At Military Radar 2017 he considered, Electromagnetic Spectrum Operation: Challenges for Military Radar and Electronic Warfare, where he offered a marketing perspective to aid the understanding of Electromagnetic Spectrum Operations (EMSO) challenges for military systems including radar and EW.

With respect to passive radar Professor Krzysztof Kulpa, Institute of Electrical Engineering, University of Warsaw examined, Combining Passive and Active Radar to Improve Threat Detection and Surveillance Coverage, which looked at working towards a multi-band capability to minimise fading, increase accuracy and avoid jamming across passive and active systems.

Another approach to the subject came from Dr Mathini Sellathurai, Associate Professor, School of Engineering & Physical Sciences; Sensors, Signals & Systems, Heriot-Watt University who considered: Enhancing the Signal Processing Function of Passive Radar that looked at the challenges that independent transmitters depended on by passive radar systems pose to signal processing, and how current techniques can be updated to support a more reliable passive radar platform.

Outside of the academic sphere industry and research institutes demonstrated their activity in the development of military radar technology. In his presentation titled, Identifying and Tracking Emerging Threats in Complex and Congested Operating Environments, Dr William Wallace, Senior Scientist, QinetiQ elaborated on a U.K. MoD radar research programme which developed a slow air and surface target detection and tracking channel for shipborne, primary surveillance radar.

Dr Alexander Charlish, Research Group Leader, Frauhofer Institute for Communication, Information Processing and Ergonomics (FKIE) proffered his thoughts on, Sensor Data Fusion for Networked Radar that considered the motivation for developing networked radar and understanding the benefits compared to non-networked systems, while Dr Boerge Torvik, Senior Scientist, Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI) considered, Long Range Air Defence Radar Bands. His presentation included improving the ability of long-range radar systems to distinguish between birds and micro-UAVs in L-Band and S-Band, in order to enhance non-cooperative target recognition (NCTR).

 Interaction was encouraged throughout the conference and emphasised at the lively concluding, Summative Panel Discussion: Developing a Threat Appropriate Approach to the Procurement of Military Radar Solutions, which posed the questions:

● How can adaptive and cognitive radar solutions be integrated with existing systems, and how will this assist with providing adaptability across multiple operating environments?

● How can multi-mission radar systems be used to streamline the procurement process?

●Towards an open architecture approach to radar capability, how can industry meet the demands of radar-based target identification without relying on bespoke solutions?

● In a very large surveillance radar procurement, what are the pros and cons of using a single uniform architecture versus multiple specialized architecture for different applications?