System Design and Analysis for Energy-Efficient Passive UAV Radar Imaging System using Illuminators of Opportunity

10/01/2020 ∙ by Zhichao Sun, et al. ∙ 5

Unmanned ariel vehicle (UAV) can provide superior flexibility and cost-efficiency for modern radar imaging systems, which is an ideal platform for advanced remote sensing applications using synthetic aperture radar (SAR) technology. In this paper, an energy-efficient passive UAV radar imaging system using illuminators of opportunity is first proposed and investigated. Equipped with a SAR receiver, the UAV platform passively reuses the backscattered signal of the target scene from an external illuminator, such as SAR satellite, GNSS or ground-based stationary commercial illuminators, and achieves bi-static SAR imaging and data communication. The system can provide instant accessibility to the radar image of the interested targets with enhanced platform concealment, which is an essential tool for stealth observation and scene monitoring. The mission concept and system block diagram are first presented with justifications on the advantages of the system. Then, the prospective imaging performance and system feasibility are analyzed for the typical illuminators based on signal and spatial resolution model. With different illuminators, the proposed system can achieve distinct imaging performance, which offers more alternatives for various mission requirements. A set of mission performance evaluators is established to quantitatively assess the capability of the system in a comprehensive manner, including UAV navigation, passive SAR imaging and communication. Finally, the validity of the proposed performance evaluators are verified by numerical simulations.

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