Before we begin discussing TACAN, you need torecall the definition of the polar-coordinate system.The polar-coordinate system is a geometric systemused to locate points on a plane. In electronics, it isusually used for plotting antenna directional patterns.TACAN is a polar-coordinate type radio air-navigation system that provides an aircrew withdistance information, from distance measuringequipment
and bearing (azimuth)information. This information, as shown in figure 2-1, is usually provided by two meters. One meterindicates, in nautical miles, the distance of the aircraftfrom the surface beacon. The other meter indicatesthe direction of flight, in degrees-of-bearing, to thegeographic location of the surface beacon. By usingthe TACAN equipment installed in the aircraft andTACAN ground equipment installed aboard aparticular surface ship or shore station, a pilot canobtain bearing to and distance from that location. Heor she can then either:(1) fly directly to that particular location, or
Figure 2-1.—TACAN aircraft indication.
(2) use the bearing and distance from a specificbeacon to fix his or her geographic location.
The distance measuring concept used in TACANequipment isan outgrowth of radar-rangingtechniques. Radar-ranging determines distance bymeasuring the round-trip travel time of pulsed rf energy.The return signal (echo) of the radiatedenergy depends on the natural reflection of the radiowaves.However, TACAN beacon-transpondersgenerate artificial replies instead of depending on
Now look at figure 2-2. The airborne equipmentgenerates timed interrogation pulse pairs that thesurface TACAN system receives and decodes. Aftera 50-µsec delay, the transponder responds with areply. The airborne DME then converts the round-trip time to distance from the TACAN facility. Thefrequency and identification code provide thegeographic location of the transmitting beacon.
TACAN PULSE PAIRS
TACAN transponders use twin-pulse decoders topass only those pulse pairs with the proper spacing.The purpose of this twin-pulse technique is toincrease the average power radiated and to reduce thepossibility of false signal interference.After the receiver decodes an interrogation, theencoder generates the necessary pulse pair requiredfor the transponder’s reply. A TACAN pulse pairgenerated by airborne or ground equipment is shownin figure 2-3.
In principle,reply to aircraft
the TACAN transponder need onlyinterrogations at 30 pulse pairs-per-