Military SAR (synthetic aperture radar) systems can be mounted on manned aircraft, or UAV systems including MALE (medium altitude long endurance) and HALE (high altitude long endurance) platforms. They may also be incorporated into satellites.
Synthetic aperture radar (SAR) is a remote sensing technology that uses the motion of a radio wave-emitting antenna over a target to create 2D or 3D imagery with greater spatial resolution than conventional radar. The aperture of a radar antenna is usually related to its physical size; the “synthetic” in SAR refers to the distance that the system moves during the time that a radio-wave pulse is emitted and reflected.
SAR & InSAR for Imaging & Remote Sensing
There are a number of different SAR techniques, including inferometric SAR (InSAR), which uses multiple images to monitor changes to a target area over time. Synthetic aperture radar provides a number of advantages over other forms of imaging and remote sensing. It is an active system that effectively provides its own electromagnetic “illumination”, and thus can be used to provide imagery both during the day and at night. The frequencies of the imaging pulses can also be selected to avoid attenuation due to bad weather, meaning that it can be used under any conditions.
Synthetic Aperture Radar Military Applications
SAR can be used for a number of military applications, particularly those relating to tactical ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance). It can be used to provide situational awareness even through cloud cover, smoke, haze and fog, and is ideal for regular monitoring of an area. Such monitoring can be used to pick up on enemy activity in that area, including troops and vehicle build-up as well as construction and underground excavation.
Moving Target Detection & AIS
Military SAR systems can also be used as Ground Moving Target Indicators (GMTI), in order to detect moving vehicles and aircraft. Some systems can also be used to classify specific types of target. SAR imagery can also be combined with AIS (Automatic Identification System) data to provide advanced recognition and tracking of vessels at sea.