dramatic T/R module cost reductions and technology improvements. The improved per-formance of ESA radars is cited as a reason for decreased utilization of reflector antennasin many of today’s radar system designs.However, there are still applications where the reflector antenna is well suited to radarapplications and will continue to find applications in the future. Three relevant examples of radar applications well suited to the use of reflector antennas are briefly described below.
Low Cost Radar.
For very cost-constrained applications where mechanical scanrates suffice, reflector antennas are still the dominant choice. One such niche is com-mercial weather radar, e.g., NEXRAD and TDWR.
Very High-Gain, Long-Range Radar.
For very high-gain radar applications, the costof an ESA is typically still prohibitive, and the reflector provides an economical means of realizing such high gains. Two examples of long-range radar applications generally requir-ing very high antenna gains are (1) missile defense radar and (2) space-based radar.
Limited Scan Radars.
Some radars operate over a limited field-of-view and/or therequirements dictate fast electronic scanning over a small FOV and slower mechanicalscanning over a larger field of view. ESA-fed reflector architectures are well suited forsuch applications and are described in greater detail in Section 12.3. Three relevant exam-ples are (1) missile defense radar, (2) space-based radar, and (3) ground-based search andtrack radar (1D azimuth electronic scanning suffices for some of these applications).
Classification of Reflector Antennas.
Radar reflector antennas can be classified invarious ways. One useful classification criteria is electrical design, i.e., the reflector opticsconfiguration. Table 12.1 provides a summary level comparison of some common radar
Single ReflectorParabolicCylindricalReflectorDual Reflector(Cassegrain orGregorian)ConfocalParaboloidsSpherical andTorus
• Limited in bothAzimuth andElevation• Achieved viaFeed switching• Wide 1Dscanning• Uses ESAline sourcefor wide 1Dscanning• Limited in bothAzimuth andElevation• Achieved viafeed switching• Uses planarESA source• Typicallylimited, buttradableby varyingmagnification• Potential forvery wide 1Dscanning (torus)or 2D Scanning(spherical)• Achieved viafeed switching
• Medium to high• No escan: Singlehorn• Escan: Array(switched feeds)•
Medium tohigh• 1D ESA linesource• High• No escan:Single horn• Escan: Array(switched feeds)• High• 2D ESAplanar source• Modest to low• Switchedbeam array oncircular arc(torus reflector)or sphericalarc (sphericalreflector)
• Mitigate feedblockage viaoffset geometry• Mitigate feedblockagevia offsetgeometry• Mitigate feedblockage viaoffset geometry• Can move feedbehind reflector• Mitigate feedblockagevia offsetgeometry• Seriousconcern forvery wide scanconfigurations
Comparison of Key Features of Reflector Architectures