Difference between search radar and tracking radar

Difference between search radar and tracking radar

Difference between search radar and tracking radar is discussed in this post. But before that some information about both the radar system.

Search and Tracking Radar

Any radar system is generally required to perform one of the following tasks: (i) either search for the target or (ii) track the targets once they have been pinpointed.

In some applications, the two tasks can be executed by single radar in others they can be performed by two separate radars. The search radar uses wide beam antenna patterns and the tracking radar uses narrow beam antenna patterns.

If a single radar is used then narrow beam antenna patterns are used for both searching and tracking purposes. The pencil-beam antenna patterns take a long time to search a target so we use a separate search radar and a separate tracking radar.

Search Radar System

Search radars are mainly designed to search the targets without any earlier knowledge about the target existence.

They search the targets with wide beam antenna patterns within a given volume of a solid angle and within a given slant range in a specified amount of time.

If the narrow beam antenna patterns are used rather than wide beam antenna patterns then the scanning time increases. So we prefer wide beam antenna patterns in search radars.

To obtain wide beam antenna patterns we use two antennas, one move in azimuth angle and other moves in elevation angle. In this way, they scan a large area in a limited amount of time.

The applications of Search radar is that it provides detection and surveillance of submarines, surface vessels, and aircraft. The radar using this search radar principle is the air traffic control radar which is used at military airports.

Tracking Radar System

The tracking radar system continuously tracks the target and determines the position or direction of a target.

The position or direction of the target is measured in range, azimuth angle, elevation angle, and velocity. The future position and direction of the target are also predicted by continuously tracking these measured parameters.

Tracking radar must be used to search the airspace when the presence of a target is suspected by using special antenna patterns like helical, T.V. raster, cluster, and spiral patterns.

Difference between search radar and tracking radar

The differences between search radar and tracking radar are given in Table below.

S.No.Search radarTracking radar
1Search radars search the targets within a given volume of a solid angle and within a given slant range in a specified amount of time.The tracking radar continuously tracks the target and determines the position or direction of a target in range, azimuth angle, elevation angle, and velocity.
2They search the targets with wide beam antenna patterns.They track the targets with narrow beam antenna patterns which is known as pencil beam antenna patterns.
3Search radar is used in aircrafts and surveillance applications.Tracking radar is used in defense for tracking enemy targets, directing defensive missiles and prediction of the target.

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