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- 1 -

Radar Cross Sectoin (RCS)

Radar cross section (RCS) is a measure of the electromagnetic energy

intercepted and re-radiated by an object (or target). The dimension of

RCS is m

2

.

Formal definition:

The radar cross section of an object (or target) is defined as an

equivalent area intercepting that amount of power which, when

scattered isotropically, produces at the radar receiver a power density

W

D

which is equal to that scattered by the real object (or target). We

can derive the mathematical form of as follows.

UQ/ITEE COMS4104

By Hon Tat Hui Additional Lecture Notes

- 2 -

Assume that the target is at a distance of R from a radar receiver. The

power density of the incident wave at the target = W

i

. If the target has a

radar cross section , then the power reflected (scattered) by the target

UQ/ITEE COMS4104

By Hon Tat Hui Additional Lecture Notes

- 3 -

P

r

= W

i

. Because this reflected power will be reradiate in all directions

(isotropically). Therefore the power density W

D

of the reflected wave at

the radar receiver is:

2

i

D

R 4

W

W

=

That is,

i

D

2

W

W

R 4 =

As the target is considered to be in the far-field region, therefore R has

to be in the infinity. That is,

=

i

D

2

R

W

W

R 4 lim

UQ/ITEE COMS4104

By Hon Tat Hui Additional Lecture Notes

- 4 -

The radar cross section can also be expressed using the electric and

magnetic fields at the target (E

i

, H

i

) and at the radar receiver (E

D

, H

D

).

That is,

=

2

2

2

R

2

2

2

R

2

2

2

R

i

D

2

R

R 4 lim

R 4 lim R 4 lim

W

W

R 4 lim

i i

D D

i

D

i

D

H E

H E

H

H

E

E

The RCS of an object is a complex combination of multiple factors such

as size, shape, material, edges, wavelength, and polarization of the

incident wave. Complex objects (for example, an airplane) tend to have

multiple scattering sources (points) such as the nose, fuselage, inlet,

wing root, wings, tail, etc, which will give rise to complex RCSs.

UQ/ITEE COMS4104

By Hon Tat Hui Additional Lecture Notes

- 5 -

Simple objects tend to have fewer scattering sources and also simpler

RCSs. RCSs of complex objects have to be determined by

measurements while simpler objects RCSs can be obtained by

calculation. Note that, in general, RCSs also depend on the angle of the

incident wave, the polarization of the incident wave, and the angle of

observation. The RCS definition given above assumes for monostatic

radar systems so that the incident wave angle and the observation angle

are the same. Below is a table of RCSs of some simple objects.

UQ/ITEE COMS4104

By Hon Tat Hui Additional Lecture Notes

- 6 -

Radar cross sections of some simple shapes (objects)

UQ/ITEE COMS4104

By Hon Tat Hui Additional Lecture Notes

- 7 -

The following figure shows the RCS of an aircraft which is obtained by

measurement.

Radar cross section of a full-scale B-26 two-engine medium-bomber

aircraft at 10-cm wavelength as a function of azimuth angle. Note that the

RCS is highly dependent on the observation angle, the azimth angle.

UQ/ITEE COMS4104

By Hon Tat Hui Additional Lecture Notes

- 8 -

Example:

A target at a distance of 5000m reflects power such that 58dBm

appears at the output of an antenna with an effective area of 10m

2

. The

illumination power density at the target is 20 mW/m

2

. Find the radar

cross section of the target.

Solution:

-58dBm = 10

-5.8

10

-3

= 1.5810

-9

W

Received power density at the radar receiver:

W

D

= -58dBm/10m

2

= 1.5810

-9

/10 = 1.5810

-10

W/m

2

Power density at the target:

W

i

= 2010

-3

W/m

2

Therefore,

2

3 -

10 -

2

i

D

2

m 48 . 2

10 20

10 58 . 1

) 5000 ( 4

W

W

R 4 =

= =

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