Adaptive Radar Algorithms for Next Generation Surface Search Radar
AREA(S): Battlespace, Electronics, Sensors
PROGRAM: PEO IWS 2.0, Above Water Sensors Program Office, Next Generation
Surface Search Radar (NGSSR)
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Develop and demonstrate a suite of algorithms that extend, enhance, and
optimize the performance of the Next Generation Surface Search Radar (NGSSR) by
exploiting the software-defined architecture of the radar.
Navy ships are designed and equipped to fulfill various combat and supply
missions. No ship class has the same set of mission requirements. However,
navigation and situational awareness are basic functions common to all ships
and these seemingly routine tasks have become more difficult as the maritime
environment has become increasingly complex. The seas are becoming crowded.
Furthermore, the proliferation of inexpensive solid-state radio frequency (RF)
technology means that even small fishing boats and pleasure craft have radars.
Air traffic and land-based emitters further crowd and confuse the radio
spectrum. Major shipping channels that are jammed with ship and radio traffic
as well as debris such as floating transport containers present a real hazard
to navigation. Exploiting these conditions, adversary ships, aircraft, and
unmanned airborne vehicles can conceal themselves while conducting surveillance
or other operations.
In response, the Navy is investing in new navigation radar, the Next Generation
Surface Search Radar (NGSSR). While being designed to be affordable (for wide
deployment) and having a range consistent with its primary navigation function,
the radar will make full use of the latest digital technology and incorporate a
software-based architecture at its core. Both the receiver and the exciter will
be realized in software to the maximum extent possible. Conversion of digital
to RF in the exciter and RF to digital in the receiver will therefore represent
the bulk of the non-processor hardware (excluding ancillary equipment such as
power supplies). NGSSR will therefore be “software-defined” radar, similar to
what has been so successfully done with software-defined radio.
This software-defined radar feature is primarily intended to meet the
sustainability requirements for the radar by drastically reducing
radar-specific hardware. However, the software-defined architecture also offers
the opportunity to implement functionality never before considered for such
relatively simple rotating radar. Software modules should be easily capable of
extending the radar’s capability such that it can assume expanded mission
requirements. Furthermore, the potential exists to enhance the basic navigation
function of the radar, making it resilient in the face of complex contact
scenarios, robust to varying weather conditions, and immune to interference and
deception, while simultaneously reducing operator workload and fatigue. An
agile approach in which the radar automatically adjusts to changing conditions
The Navy seeks a coherent suite of algorithms suitable for the NGSSR that
tangibly enhance radar performance and utility. In this case, “coherent” means
that the multiple algorithms are organized and can be integrated to act in
conjunction with each other to realize broad areas of performance enhancement
in the radar. A set of algorithms that address disparate radar functions
piecemeal is not needed. Furthermore, because the radar development program
will already be delivering software implementing basic radar functions, such as
fundamental search modes and surface contact tracking, they should not be
considered in the solution.
Of particular interest are radar algorithms that reduce the operator workload
by assisting in target identification and by automatically responding to
interference, spectrum crowding, and changing weather conditions. Improved
collision avoidance is an obvious potential benefit. This topic anticipates
consideration of algorithms that exploit the software-defined nature of the
radar exciter (i.e., signal generator) through pulse-to-pulse agility of the
transmitted signal. Algorithms that expand the utility of the radar beyond its
primary navigation role are also desired. Detection and tracking of unmanned
aircraft (drones) are desirable secondary functions of the radar as is the
detection of low observable surface targets such as surface debris, partially
submerged craft, fast in-shore craft, periscopes, and floating mines. Candidate
algorithms should also take into account the digital receiver, which is capable
of sensing the entire in-band spectrum (in addition to just receiving the
radar’s own returns), and electronic protection as desirable areas for
consideration. Algorithms should be designed for modularity to facilitate easy
update and compatibility with the existing NGSSR software.
I: Propose a concept for a coherent set of agile radar algorithms that enhance
NGSSR performance and expand its utility as described above. Demonstrate the
feasibility of the approach and predict the utility of the concept. Demonstrate
feasibility by analysis of algorithm performance, analysis of the projected
benefits, and the modularity of the algorithms (which is the measure of the
ease with which they can be integrated in the NGSSR architecture). An analysis
of the algorithm efficiency (i.e., the processor loading) is also desirable.
Demonstrate utility by analysis or simulation of the performance improvement
offered by the algorithms taken collectively. As a NGSSR system will not be
available, ensure that the proposed concept anticipates development (or
acquisition) of a radar simulation capability sufficient to demonstrate the
radar algorithms (this simulation capability need not run in real time).
Develop a Phase II plan. The Phase I Option, if exercised, will include the
initial design specifications and capabilities description to build a prototype
solution in Phase II.
II: Develop and demonstrate the agile radar algorithm suite prototype. As a
NGSSR system may not be available until late in the project (if at all),
perform development and demonstration of the algorithms that include
development of a radar simulation capability sufficient to demonstrate the
radar algorithms in the development environment (this simulation capability
need not run in real time). Deliver to the Government a prototype that is a
suite of coded algorithms (ready for compilation into executable code),
corresponding interface and operation support documentation, and the radar
III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Support the Navy in transitioning the technology for
Government use. Assist the Government in inserting the coded algorithms into
the NGSSR software baseline and validating the compliance of the algorithms to
NGSSR program standards. Provide software support and assist in demonstrating
and testing the radar performance directly resulting from the algorithms.
These algorithms have the potential to transition to the broader commercial
navigation radar market.
Debatty, Thibault. "Software defined radar a state of the art.” 2nd
International Workshop on Cognitive Information Processing, 2010, pp. 253-257. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/5604241/
Stinco, Pietro, et al. "Cognitive radars in spectrally dense
environments.” IEEE A&E Systems Magazine, October 2016, pp. 20-27. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/7746567/
Navigation Radar; Software-Defined Radar; Radar Algorithms; Target
Identification; Detection and Tracking; Electronic Protection
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