Michael E. Yeomans
6.1 THE CONFIGURATION OF A RADAR RECEIVER
The function of a radar receiver is to amplify, filter, downconvert, and digitize theechoes of the radar transmission in a manner that will provide the maximum discrimi-nation between desired echo signals and undesired interference. The interference com-prises not only the self noise generated in the radar receiver but also the energy receivedfrom galactic sources, neighboring radars and communication equipment, and possibly jammers. The portion of the radar’s own radiated energy that is scattered by undesiredtargets (such as rain, snow, birds, insects, atmospheric perturbations, and chaff) mayalso be classified as interference and is commonly categorized as clutter. Where air-borne radars are used for altimeters or mapping, other aircraft are undesired targets, andthe ground is the desired target. In the case of weather radars, ground, buildings, andaircraft are clutter, and rain or snow is the desired target. More commonly, radars areintended for detection of aircraft, missiles, ships, surface vehicles, or personnel, and thereflection from weather, sea, or ground is classified as clutter interference.Although the boundaries of the radar receiver are somewhat arbitrary, this chapterwill consider those elements identified in Figure 6.1 as the receiver. The radar excitergenerates the transmit waveforms as well as local oscillator (LO), clock, and timingsignals. Since this function is usually tightly coupled to a radar receiver, it is alsoshown in Figure 6.1 and will be discussed in this chapter. The purpose of Figure 6.1 isto illustrate the functions typical of a modern radar receiver and exciter.Virtually all radar receivers operate on the superheterodyne principle shownin Figure 6.1. Through this architecture, the receiver filters the signal to separatedesired target signals from unwanted interference. After modest RF amplifica-tion, the signal is shifted to an intermediate frequency (IF) by mixing with a local-oscillator (LO) frequency. More than one conversion stage may be necessary toreach the final IF without encountering serious image- or spurious-frequency prob-lems in the mixing process. The superheterodyne receiver varies the LO frequency tofollow any desired tuning variation of the transmitter without disturbing the filteringat IF. This simplifies the filtering operation as the signals occupy a wider percentage
* This chapter incorporates material written by John W. Taylor, Jr. for the first and second editions and updatedby Michael Yeomans for this edition.