Radar simulators and radar simulation software are used in a variety of military and defense applications. Both support radar design, development, testing and production by simulating a radar’s behavior.
Military Radar Simulators
Radar simulators and simulation software are vital for ascertaining the extent to which military platforms, sensors, weapons and equipment are affected by radar transmissions. They play a key part in evaluating the performance of electronic warfare systems. These include electronic support measures, electronic protection systems and electronic countermeasures.
Radar simulators and radar simulation software are also used to evaluate and measure the radar cross sections of land, sea and air platforms. Both can be used in a laboratory environment, in manufacturing and on the production line. Radar simulators are often found on test ranges where they replicate the performance of particular systems.
Mimicking Radar Waveforms
Radar simulators are designed to precisely replicate a radar transmission. All radar transmissions use radio waves. These will typically be modified to perform specific tasks. Modified radio waves are configured into waveforms therein. For example, a specific waveform will be used to detect and track surface-to-surface missiles. The same radar may transmit a different waveform to detect and track slower targets like unmanned aerial vehicles. The radar’s software instructs it how to generate and transmit a specific waveform according to the task at hand.
Simulators and radar simulation software mimic these waveforms so they can be transmitted in real world environments like a test range. The simulator will detail the effect the radar’s target has on the echo the radar receives. Radars transmit radio waves which collide with a target and echo back to the radar. By measuring the characteristics of this echo, the radar determines a target’s range, altitude, speed and azimuth, among other characteristics.
- Radar simulators will generate and transmit the desired waveform, behaving just like the radar it is simulating.
- Radar simulation software performs a similar task, however the software can mimic the effects of the waveform in a synthetic environment. This can be done as part of a computer simulation to determine the effect of the radar transmission on a particular target.
Defense Applications – Testing, Training & Preparation
As well as being used for testing, radar simulators and simulation software are used for training. For example, they can help train radar operators. Alternatively, they can be used to train personnel in evading or mitigating the threat from potentially hostile radars.
Simulation software and simulators are particularly useful in preparing personnel and platforms to encounter real threats. Electronic intelligence on hostile radar transmissions can be programmed into the simulator or software. These tools will behave in the same way as their real-world counterparts. This allows the drafting of tactics and techniques to evade or avoid these threats.
In the nine decades since radar was invented, methods of replicating its performance and characteristics have become progressively more sophisticated. This trend is expected to continue in the future.