RADAR (an acronym for RAdio Detection And Ranging) is a sensor system that uses electromagnetic rays to detect objects, identify them, and determine their velocity. RADAR was first introduced during the Second World War.
RADAR can operate in an active mode, generating pulses of radio waves, receiving echoes reflected from objects they strike, and analyzing the echoes to determine the characteristics of the objects that reflected the initial pulses.
RADAR can also operate in a passive mode, simply receiving radio waves from other sources and analyzing them.
Early RADAR systems required massive antennas, and the units were only able to detect targets from certain directions. Later systems incorporated rotating transceivers that allowed a station to scan in any direction. With the invention of the magnatron microwave generator, it became possible to mount RADAR on aircraft to further improve detection methods and RADAR's defensive capabilities. WWII produced the greatest advances in RADAR technology, as both the Allies and the Axis worked to find ways to detect, jam, intercept, penetrate, and destroy their enemy's RADAR defense networks.
RADAR mounted on combat aircraft and ground installations are required to locate and destroy targets with RADAR-guided long-range missiles.
When mounted on combat aircraft, RADAR allows the pilot(s) to target and engage enemy aircraft in low visibility conditions. Initially, this was restricted to specifically designed "night fighters" that had the space available for the large RADAR units. As RADAR systems were improved and miniaturized, they were installed on more and more aircraft. Today, virtually all combat aircraft have this capability.
- Flight Control Network
- Air Defense Networks
- AWACS and other RADAR detection aircraft
- Night Ranging and Interception
- WWII Night Fighters and Bombers