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Weather & Aircraft Tracking Systems


Air and Littoral Weather Radar  Systems

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Weather Radar System

SKY Systems can be used develop new radar processor systems or for upgrading current Radar systems. Examples shown in this paper use ship borne radar systems for example purposes only, the system can be used for ground-based or airborne radar.

This system example will provide a Moving Target Indicator (MTI) / Moving Target Detector (MTD) processing capability, and will use existing COTS RF receiver and processing systems hardware.  An optional upgrade will incorporate weather radar processing and displays.

 The processor will be designed to integrate with the radar transmitter and antenna systems, to provide a low cost solution in lieu of developing or replacing a radar processing system.  The processor design, however, will also be sized for compatibility with a radar transmitter and antenna system in order to support modular radar systems.  Interfaces will be software or firmware defined and the processing capability will be sized to support (or provide a low-cost upgrade path for supporting) advanced capabilities, such as staggered pulse repetition intervals, pulse compression, and multi-frequency sub-pulsed waveforms. 

Processor and Receiver Notional Architecture The initial MTI/MTD processor consists of two major components; an analog receiver and a digital processor.  The analog receiver replaces the existing radar receivers and provides the downconversion of the received S-band signal down to an intermediate frequency.  The digital processor consists of a timing/control unit, a digital downconverter and signal processing cluster, and a video output unit.  The timing/control unit controls the radar transmitter and receiver and generates the MTI waveform timing.  The digital downconverter and signal processor generates inphase and quadrature samples from the analog receiver IF and performs the MTI/MTD processing.  The video interface generates video output of the processed radar data in a format compatible with the existing radar video distribution and display systems. 

The hardware platform is envisioned to use modern COTS components to the greatest extent possible.  The processing capability is based around the SKY computers Thunderbolt VME processors.  These cards will be integrated with a programmable I/O controller card (also VME form factor) as the timing/control unit.  Additionally, a commercial analog receiver and digital receiver card will be used to downconvert the radar returns and convert these returns to I/Q samples for processing.  A commercial video generation card provides the radar data output to the radar display.  A block diagram of this notional architecture is shown below.


Figure 1:  Notional Processor Upgrade Architecture 

Note that the Weather Processor ThunderBolt or Lightning card and interface to the HWDDC Display Server are optional configuration items if desired.  The HWDDC Display Server is a separate computer unit. The radar processor will be utilizing a VME COTS radar processor board in the chassis. The MTI/MTD functions will be provided using SKY Thunderbolt processing boards in the same chassis. MTI/MTD applications software will be loaded in flash on the SKY boards, allowing for the boards to run the application in self-hosted mode reducing the added costs of any VME system requirements.

 Radar Receiver and Processor tasks are listed below.  This listing is based on the understanding of the desired radar system capabilities and may be modified as more detailed information and the radar system developers define requirements. 

  • Radar Systems Engineering
    • Define the pertinent MTI/MTD waveform parameters based on the desired range coverage, clutter cancellation, integration into the current radar scan, etc.
    • Define the algorithms for executing the MTI/MTD processing on the SKY Thunderbolt processors
    • Define the interfaces and timing and control needed to integrate the upgraded processor with the existing transmitter and antenna systems and ship motion information source
    • Define the system requirements for the analog and digital receivers
    • Define the video output interface requirements
    • Develop integrated system design and internal interface descriptions
  • Hardware Configuration
    • Develop the upgrade processor physical layout and integration approach into the existing ship space
    • Select an appropriate commercial analog receiver
    • Select an appropriate commercial digital receiver
    • Select an appropriate commercial programmable timing and control unit
    • Select an appropriate commercial video output unit
    • Size and configure the SKY processor assembly
  • Development and Unit Test
    • Design, code, and unit test the MTI/MTD processing software
    • Design, code, and unit test the timing and control software
    • Design, configure, and unit test the digital receiver firmware settings
    • Configure and test the analog receiver
    • Configure and test the video output unit
    • Optional: Design, code, and unit test the weather processing functions and interface to HWDDC display server
  • System Integration and Test
    • Integrate and test full processor system using lab simulators
    • Install and test full processor assembly with land-based radar system
    • Support installation and test


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