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A STUDY OF CFAR IMPLEMENTATION COST AND PERFORMANCE

TRADEOFFS IN HETEROGENEOUS ENVIRONMENTS

A Thesis

Presented to the

Faculty of

California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

In Partial Fulfillment

Of the Requirements for the Degree

Master of Science

In

Electrical and Computer Engineering

By

James J. Jen

2011

SIGNATURE PAGE

THESIS:

A STUDY OF CFAR IMPLEMENTATION COST AND PERFORMATIVE TRADEOFFS IN HETEROGENEOUS ENVIRONMENTS

AUTHOR:

James J. Jen

DATE SUBMITTED:

Spring 2011

Electrical and Computer Engineering

Dr. Zekeriya Aliyazicioglu Thesis Committee Chair Electrical and Computer Engineering College of Engineering

Dr. H.K Hwang Electrical and Computer Engineerin g College of Engineering

Dr. James Kang Electrical and Computer Engineering College of Engineering

ii

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I recall clearly last year when, at the end of a Signal Processing lecture, Profes

sor Hwang asked for interest in graduate research. My time at Cal Poly Pomona, up un

til that point, had been rocky and undistinguished. Tentative, I almost didn’t approach

the professor that. I’m glad I did. The last year of graduate research with Professors

Hwang and Zeki had meaningfully colored and enriched my graduate studies.

Much thanks to Professor H.K. Hwang and Zekeriya Aliyazicioglu: firstly, for the

opportunity for research and their many Friday mornings spent on us students, and

secondly, for their invaluable guidance and encouragement throughout.

Appreciation too to Thales Raytheon for supporting the research, and particu

larly to Tom Nichols Walker Birrell for their expertise and input.

Thanks too to Nellie Qian, who, for most of the past year, had been my partner

in crime in MATLAB ventures from Minimax beamforming, to antenna array inte rfer

ence suppression, and finally to this CFAR thing that had become our thesis.

And thanks, most sincerely, to my mom and dad— Emily and Chin Ping Jen—

for their support, encouragement, and patience.

iii

ABSTRACT

CFAR— Constant False Alarm Rate— is a critical component in RADAR detec

tion. Through the judicial setting of detection threshold, CFAR algorithms allow RADAR

systems to set detection thresholds and reliably differentiate between targets of inter

est and interfering noise or clutter.

In many operating conditions, noise and clutter distributions may be highly het

erogeneous— with sudden jumps in clutter power or with the presence of multiple tar

gets in close proximity. A good CFAR algorithm must reliably operate in these condi

tions but without prohibitively high implementation costs.

In this thesis, we investigate a number of CFAR algorithms— new and old— all

the while assessing their operational flexibility and cost of operation.

As balance of performance and implementation cost, two algorithms stood out

as desirable: Variability Index (VI) CFAR— a procedure that allowed for dynamically se

lection between the leading, lagging, or whole of the reference windows— and Switch

ing (S) CFAR— a test cell technique that allowed for the selection of representative

subsets of the reference cell as compared to the cell under test. We conclude with de

veloping a new algorithm: Switching Variability Index (SVI) CFAR that combines the ad

vantages of both VI and S CFAR.

iv

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Signature Page ………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ii

Acknowledgements

……………………………………………………………………………………………… iii

Abstract ……………………………………………………………

…………………………………………………… iv

Table of Contents ……………………………………………………………………………………………………. v

List of Tables

………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ix

List of Figures

………………………………………………………………………………………………………… x

1 Introduction ………………………………………………………………………

……………………… 1

1.1 Background ……………………………………………………………………………………………

1

1.2 Objective ……………………………………………………………………………………………….

1

1.3 Investigation Tool ……………………………………… ………………………………………….

2

2 Background ……………………………………………………… ………………………………………….

3

2.1 Introduction …………………………………………………………………

……………………… 3

2.2 The Radar System …………………………………………………………………………………. 3

2.3 Doppler Processing

……………………………………………………………………………… 5

2.4 Radar Signals………………………………………………………………………………………….

6

2.4.1 Target ……………………………………………………………….…………………….

6

2.4.2 Clutter …………………………………………………………………………………….

8

2.4.3 Noise ……………………………………………………………………………………… 9

2.4.4 Square Law Detector

…………………………………………………

…………. 9

2.5 Radar Signal Environment

…………………………………………………………………… 12

2.5.1 Homogeneous …………………………………………………………………………. 12

v

2.5.2

Multiple Targets ……………………………………………………………………… 13

2.5.3 Clutter Wall

…………………………………………………………………………… 14

2.6 About CFAR

………………………………………………………………………………………… 15

2.6.1 Probability of False Alarm

……………………………………………………… 15

2.6.2 The CFAR Window …………………………………………………………………… 17

2.6.3 Probability of Detection

………………………………………………………… 18

2.6.4 CFAR Loss ………………………………………………………………………………… 19

2.7 Monte Carlo Simulations ……………………………………………………………………….

20

3 Cell Averaging CFAR ………………………………………………………………………………….

22

3.1 Implementation …………………………………………………………………………………….

22

3.2 Homogeneous

Environment………………………………………………………………… 24

3.2.1 Probability of False Alarm…………………………………………………………

24

3.2.2 Detection…………………………………………………………………………………. 25

3.3 Multiple Targets………………………………………………………………………………………

27

3.4 Clutter Wall……………………………………………………………………………………………

29

3.4.1 Clutter Wall False Alarm……………………………………………………………

29

3.4.2 Clutter Wall Detection………………………………………………………………

31

3.5 Summary: CA CFAR Advantages and

Disadvantages……………………………… 31

3.6 A Combat for Multiple Targets: Smallest Of Cell Averaging

CFAR… ……

32

3.7 A Remedy for Clutter Walls: GreatestOf Cell Averaging CFAR ……………… 37

4 VariabilityIndex CFAR ………………………………………………… …………………………

42

4.1 Implementation ……………………………………………………………………………………. 42

vi

4.2

VI CFAR Decision Logic…………………………………………………………………………… 45

4.3 Homogeneous Environment……………………………………………………………………

50

4.3.1 Probability of False Alarm…………………………………………………………

50

4.3.2 Probability of Detection……………………………………………………………

51

4.4 Masking Targets………………………………………………………………………………………

53

4.5 Clutter

Wall…………………………………………………………………………………………… 58

 

4.5.1 Probability of False Alarm…………………………………………………………

58

4.5.2 Probability of Detection……………………………………………………………

59

5 Ordered Statistics CFAR ………………………………………………… ………………………….

61

5.1

Implementation …………………………………………………………………………………….

61

5.2

Homogeneous ……………………………………………………………………………………….

63

5.2.1 Probability of False Alarm ……………………………………………………….

63

5.2.2 Detection…………… …………………………………………………………………… 63

5.3

Multiple Targets………………………………………………………………………………………

66

5.5

Clutter Wall

………………………………………………………………………………………… 71

6 Ordered Statistics Greate stOf CFAR ………………………………… ……………………… 74

6.1

Implementation …………………………………………………………………………………….

74

6.2

Homogeneous ……………………………………………………………………………………….

75

6.2.1 Probability of False Alarm ……………………………………………………….

76

6.2.2 Detection…………… …………………………………………………………………… 77

6.3

Multiple Targets………………………………………………………………………………………

79

6.5

Clutter Wall

………………………………………………………………………………………… 83

vii

7

Conclusions and Final Assessment ……………………………………………………………….

86

References ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

89

Appendix A MATLAB Functions

…………………………………………………………………………

90

A.1

Radar Return Generation

……………………………………………………………………

90

A.2 Monte Carlo Simulations ………………………………………………………………………

92

A.3 Neyman Pearson Detection ………………………………………………………………….

93

A.4 Cell Averaging CFAR ………………………………………………………………………………

94

A.5

Greatest Of Cell Averaging CFAR

………………………………………………………… 97

A.6 Smallest Of Cell Averaging CFAR …………………………………………………………… 100

A.7 Variability Index CFAR …………………………………………………………………………… 103

A.8

Ordered Statistics CFAR

……………………………………………………………………… 107

A.9

Ordered Statistics Greatest Of CFAR

…………………………………………………… 110

A.10 Switching CFAR …………………………………………………………………………………….

113

A.11 Switching Variability Index CFAR ………………………………………………………….

116

Appendix B MATLAB Scripts

……………………………………………………………………………… 120

B.1 Probability of False Alarm in Homogeneous Environment………………………

120

B.2 Probability of False Alarm in Clutter Wall Environment………………………….

125

B.3 Probability of Detection in Homogeneous/ Multiple Target Environment.

129

B.4 Probability of Detection in Clutter Wall

viii

Environment…………………………… 134

LIST OF TABLES

Table 2.1 Swerling Targets ………………………………………………………………………………………. 6

Table 2.2 Clutter Types …………………………………………………………………………………………… 8

Table 4.1 VI CFAR Decision Logic………………………………………………………………………………

44

Table 7.1 CFAR Comparison……………………………………………………………………………………… 86

ix

LIST OF FIGURES

Figure 2.1. Radar Block Diagram.……………………………………………………………………………

3

Figure 2.2. Doppler Processing………………………………………………………………………………… 5

Figure 2.3. Scattering for Different Swerling Targets………………………………………………

7

Figure 2.4. Diode Conductance Characteristic.…………………………………………………………. 11

Figure 2.5. Radar Return Statistics Before and After Square Law Detector ……………… 11

Figure 2.6. Homogeneous Environment…………………………………………………………………… 12

Figure 2.7. Multiple Targets. ……………………………………………………………………………………

13

Figure 2.8. Clutter Edge……………………………………………………………………………………………

14

Figure 2.9. Exponential Distribution and Thresholding.……………………………………………. 16

Figure 2.10. CFAR Window………………………………………………………………………………………. 17

Figure 2.11. The Threshold. ……………………………………………………………………………………

18

Figure 2.12. A Typical Probability of Detection Curve illustrating CFAR Loss……………

19

Figure 2.13. Monte Carlo with Exponential Distribution.…………………………………………. 20

Figure 2.14. Monte Carlo Weight Function for Exponential Distribution…………………

21

Figure 3.1. Cell Averaging CFAR Block Diagram.………………… …………………………………… 22

Figure 3.2. CA CFAR Threshold in Homogeneous Environment…………………………………

23

Figure 3.3. CA CFAR Theoretical v. Experimental PFA.………………………………………………

24

Figure 3.4. CA CFAR Homogeneous Probability of Detection.…………………………………… 25

Figure 3.5. CA CFAR Homogeneous CFAR loss…………………………………………………………

25

Figure 3.6. CA CFAR Threshold with 1 Masking Target……………………………………………

26

Figure 3.7. CA CFAR Probability of Detection with 1 to 3 masking targets………………

28

x

Figure 3.8. CA CFAR CFAR Loss with 1 to 3 masking targets…………………………………….

28

Figure 3.9. CA CFAR Threshold in Clutter Wall Transition…………………………………………

29

Figure 3.10. CA CFAR Clutter Wall Probability of False Alarm.………………………………….

30

Figure 3.11. CA CFAR Clutter Wall Probability of Detection………………………………………

31

Figure 3.12. SOCA CFAR Block Diagram……………………………………………………………………. 32

Figure 3.13. SOCA CFAR Experimental v. Theoretical PFA…………………………………………

33

Figure 3.14. SOCA CFAR Homogeneous P D .……………………………………………….……………

34

Figure 3.15. SOCA CFAR Homogeneous CFAR Loss …………………………………………………

34

Figure 3.16. SOCA CFAR 1 Masking Target Probability of Detection………………………… 35

Figure 3.17. SOCA CFAR 1 Masking Target CFAR Loss………………………………………………. 35

Figure 3.18. SOCA CFAR Clutter Wall Probability of False Alarm……………………………… 36

Figure 3.19. GOCACFAR Block Diagram…………………………………………………………………… 37

Figure 3.20. GOCACFAR Homogeneous Probability of False Alarm…………………………

38

Figure 3.21. GOCACFAR Homogeneous Probability of Detection…………………………….

39

Figure 3.22. GOCACFAR Homogeneous CFAR Loss…………………………………………………

39

Figure 3.23. GOCACFAR Probability of Detection with 1 Masking Target………………… 40

Figure 3.24. GOCACFAR CFAR Loss with 1 Masking Target……………………………………… 40

Figure 3.35. GOCACFAR Clutter Wall P FA

………………………………………………………………. 41

Figure 4.1. VICFAR Block Diagram…………………………………………………………………………… 42

Figure 4.2. VICFAR Case I……………………………………………………………………………………… 45

Figure 4.3. VICFAR Case II……………………………………………………………………………………… 46

Figure 4.4. VICFAR Case III……………………………………………………………………………………. 47

xi

Figure 4.5. VICFAR Case IV……………………………………………………………………………………. 48

Figure 4.6. VICFAR Case

V…………………………………………………………………………………… 49

Figure 4.7. VICFAR Threshold in Homogeneous Environment………………………………….

50

Figure 4.8. VICFAR Theoretical v. Experimental Homogeneous P FA …………………………

51

Figure 4.9. VICFAR Probability of Detection Curve ………………………………………………….

52

Figure 4.10. VICFAR CFAR Loss in Homogeneous

Environment……………………………… 52

Figure 4.11. VICFAR Threshold 1 Masking Target…………………………………………………….

53

Figure 4.12. VICFAR Probability of Detection with 1 Masking Target……………………….

54

Figure 4.13. VICFAR P D Curve with varying Numbers of Masking Target………………….

55

Figure 4.14. VICFAR CFAR Loss Curve with varying Numbers of Masking Target……… 55

Figure 4.15. Three

Targets……………………………………………………………………………………… 56

Figure 4.16. VICFAR Probability of Detection with Three Masking Targets……………… 57

Figure 4.17. VICFAR Threshold in Clutter Wall Transition………………………………………

58

Figure 4.18. VICFAR Clutter Wall Probability of False

Alarm

…………………………………

59

Figure 4.19. VICFAR Clutter Wall Probability of

Detection

……………………………………

60

Figure 5.1. OS CFAR Block

Diagram……………………………………

……………………………………

61

Figure 5.2. OS CFAR Homogeneous P FA

.…………………………………

……………………………….

63

Figure 5.3. OS CFAR Threshold in Homogeneous Environment.………………………………. 64

Figure 5.4. OS CFAR Homogeneous Probability of Detection…………………………………… 65

Figure 5.5. OS CFAR Homogeneous CFAR Loss ………………………………………………………… 65

Figure 5.6. OS CFAR Resistance to Multiple Targets ……………………………………………

66

Figure 5.7. OS CFAR Threshold with 1 Masking Target.……………………………………………. 67

xii

Figure 5.8. OS CFAR Probability of Detection with 1 Masking Target.………………………. 68

Figure 5.9. OS CFAR CFAR Loss with 1 Masking Target ……………………………………………. 69

Figure 5.10. OS CFAR Probability of Detection with 3 Masking Target.……………………

69

Figure 5.11. OS CFAR CFAR Loss with 3 Masking Target …………………………………………

70

Figure 5.12. OS CFAR in Clutter Wall Threshold.………………………………………………………. 71

Figure 5.13. OS CFAR Clutter Wall Probability of False Alarm…………………………………… 72

Figure 5.14. OS CFAR Clutter Wall Probability of Detection……………………………………

73

Figure 6.1. OSGOCFAR Block Diagram.…………………………………………………………………….

74

Figure 6.2. OSGOCFAR Threshold in Homogeneous Environment……………………………

75

Figure 6.3. OSGOCFAR Homogeneous P FA .……………………………………………………………… 76

Figure 6.4. OSGOCFAR Homogeneous P D ………………………………………………………………

77

Figure 6.5. OSGOCFAR Homogeneous CFAR Loss…………………………………………………….

78

Figure 6.6. OSGOCFAR Resistance to Multiple Targets

79

Figure 6.7. OSGOCFAR Threshold with 1 Masking Target………………………………………… 79

Figure 6.8. OSGOCFAR PD with 1 Masking Target……………………………………………………

80

Figure 6.9. OSGOCFAR CFAR loss with 1 Masking Target…………………………………………

81

Figure 6.10. OSGOCFAR PD with 3 Masking Target………………………………………………… 82

Figure 6.11. OSGOCFAR CFAR loss with 3 Masking Target……………………………………… 82

Figure 6.12. OSGOCFAR Threshold in Clutter Wall Transition…………………………………. 83

Figure 6.13. OSGOCFAR Clutter Wall P FA …………………………………………………………………. 84

Figure 6.16. OSGOCFAR Clutter Wall P D …………………………………………………………………

85

Figure 7.1 CFAR Obstacle Course…………………………………… ………………………………………. 88

xiii

1.1 Background

CHAPTER 1

Introduction

Radar return is often a mix of noise; clutter; and, if present, targets. A key com

ponent in RADAR processing is the setting of detection thresholds. These thresholds

differentiate between targets of interest and unwanted radar returns. As operating en

vironments and conditions change, the amount and nature of noise and clutter also

change. For accurate and reliable detection, the threshold must self adjust dynamically

and intelligently.

CFAR, constant false alarm rate, represents a key technique in adaptively set

ting target detection threshold [1]. Employing a moving window, across range bins of

data, CFAR algorithms look at neighborhoods of power returns in the estimate of the

noise or clutter mean. By scaling the estimated mean with a pre calculated multiplier,

the threshold is set as to limit false alarms to a desired rate.

CFAR algorithms are assessed for their abilities to maintain desired probabilities

of detections (P D ) and their probabilities of false alarm (P FA ). The probability of detec

tion describes the chances of successfully declaring a target, when a target is actually

present. The probability of false alarm describes the odds of incorrectly declaring a tar

get, when the signal is, in actuality, noise or clutter.

Developed CFAR algorithms must be able to operate in a variety of canonical

environments: homogeneous, multiple targets, and clutter wall. In the homogeneous

environment, a single target exists in a sea of clutter or noise of uniform noise. In the

1

multiple target exists, several targets exist in close proximity to one another. In the

clutter wall environment, noise and/or clutter power experiences sudden, discontinu

ous increases or decreases.

1.2 Objective

The goal of this study is to investigate and assess the variety of existing CFAR

algorithms and judging their performance in homogeneous, multiple target, and clut

ter wall environments. Towards this, the Ordered Statistics Greatest Of CFAR (OSGO

CFAR), Variability Index CFAR (VICFAR), and Switching CFAR (S CFAR) are studied.

While Cell Averaging CFAR (CA CFAR) and Ordered Statistics CFAR (OS CFAR) are also

looked at, they are used primarily as basis of comparisons for the algorithms of inter

est. We end with development of our own CFAR technique, Switching Variability Index

CFAR (SVI CFAR ) that represents a hybrid approach between VICFAR and S CFAR.

1.3 Investigation Tool

Radar signals and CFAR algorithms are assessed through Monte Carlo, numeri

cal expe riments. MATLAB was chosen as the investigation tool (Version 7.10.0,

R2010a).

2

2.1 Introduction

CHAPTER 2

Background

Since their development during World War II, radar had grown to occupy criti

cal civilian and military roles. An introductory understanding of radar processing and

signals is necessary before getting into the analysis and assessment of CFAR algo

rithms.

2.2 The Radar System

Originally acronymic as RADAR — for RAdio D etection And R anging, common

usage had established the word in its own right, as radar— a free standing noun. The

original word, though, helps remind of the technology’s dual purpose: To detect tar

gets of interests and to ascertain their distance.

To detect tar ‐ gets of interests and to ascertain their distance. Figure 2.1. Radar Block
To detect tar ‐ gets of interests and to ascertain their distance. Figure 2.1. Radar Block
To detect tar ‐ gets of interests and to ascertain their distance. Figure 2.1. Radar Block
To detect tar ‐ gets of interests and to ascertain their distance. Figure 2.1. Radar Block
To detect tar ‐ gets of interests and to ascertain their distance. Figure 2.1. Radar Block

Figure 2.1. Radar Block Diagram.

3

Figure 2.1 shows a basic block diagram of a RADAR system. The particular sys

tem is monostatic— where a single antenna is multiplexed for both transmission and

reception [2].

The waveform generator forms a timing pulse to trigger the transmitter to send

an electromagnetic pulse at a designed frequency. As this pulse is sent it, it will en

counter different objects at varying distances, and these objects will scatter back some

of these pulses back to the antenna.

The timing and frequency of the return pulse corresponds to the relatives

speeds and distance of the reflected target. The subsequent processing blocks— the

A/D converter, the pulse compression, and the Doppler processor all helps extract the

relevant information.

Pulse repetition interval (PRI) refers to the period of time before the successive

radar pulses. Pulse repetition frequency (PRF) is simply the inverse of the PRI. During

the period between successive pulses, during a given pulse repetition interval, the ra

dar system waits for backechoed pulses. Detected echoes are detected, binned and

stored.

The amount of time a sent pulse is reflected back to the radar antenna is di

rectly proportional to the distance of the reflector:

R

c t

0

2

R : range (distance)

: speed of light t : time

c

0

4

Figure 2.2. Doppler Processing. 2.3 Doppler Processing With doppler processing, a radar system can not

Figure 2.2. Doppler Processing.

2.3 Doppler Processing

With doppler processing, a radar system can not only detect target range and

location, but also the radial velocity, the range rate.

A single target may be looked at several times over several pulse intervals . The

change in power over a given range bin, or distance, across many pulse intervals may

give a sense of the doppl er shift, and hence, the speed of the target (Figure 2.2).

When discrete Fourier transform (DFT), through fast fourier transform (FFT), is

performed on each range sample over its many range intervals, the pulse intervals are

converted to doppler intervals (also called doppler bins).

5

2.4

Radar Signals

Radar signals are often composed of unwanted noise, undesired clutter returns,

and a target of interest. Over a short period of time, each signal elements possesses its

own stochastic distribution with a given power. Statistical characteristics of the signals

change as they pass through a square law detector.

2.4.1 Target

The power of a radar return depends on the distance and the effective radar

cross section (RCS) of the target. Over distance r, the power of the signal diminishes by

a factor r 4 . Many factors of the radar, the target, and the operating environment come

together to determine the target’s RCS: the illumination angle, the frequency, the po

larization of the transmitted wave, target motion, vibration, and kinematics of the ra

dar itself. Rather than hopelessly describing a target’s RCS deterministically, they’re

characterizing stochastically.

Building upon Marcum’s pioneering studies, Peter Swerling developed four ca

nonical stochastic models: Swerling I, II, III, and IV. With these Swerling models, the re

 

Table 2.1. Swerling Targets

 

Model

Distribution

   

Notes

Swerling I

Rayleigh

 

x

Scan toscan

Characterizes well targets like



p x

1

planes, with many independent

reflectors

Swerling II

av

e

av

Pulse toPulse

Swerling III

ChiSquared

 

2 x

Scan toscan

Characterizes well targets like



p x

4 x

Swerling IV

(Four degrees

of freedom)

2

av

e

av

Pulse toPulse

frigates, with one strong reflector

and many smaller, weaker inde pendent reflectors

Swerling V

Non fluctuating

Also called Swerling 0 or Marcum’s Model

6

(a) (b) Figure 2.3. Scattering for Different Swerling Targets. The Swerling models assumes each tar

(a)

(a) (b) Figure 2.3. Scattering for Different Swerling Targets. The Swerling models assumes each tar ‐

(b)

(a) (b) Figure 2.3. Scattering for Different Swerling Targets. The Swerling models assumes each tar ‐

Figure 2.3. Scattering for Different Swerling Targets. The Swerling models assumes each tar get composed of a large number of independent scatters.

(a)

Swerling I/II. For Swerling targets I and II, none of the independent scattering elements dominates:

their reflected powers is comparable to one another.

(b)

Swerling III/IV. For Swerling targets III and IV, there is a single dominant non fluctuating scatter together with other smaller scatters.

turn power of a target will fluctuate— randomly increase and decrease— with a char

acteristic probability density function (PDF) with either quickly or slowly (Table 2.1).

The Swerling I and II models both characterized with a Rayleigh distribution

and assumed to be composed of many independent small reflectors; and with none

dominating, they each re turn radar signals of about the same power. Swerling I models

fluctuate slowly— from scantoscan (Figure 2.3a). Each pulse return is highly corre

lated. Swerling II models, meanwhile, fluctuate quickly— varying from pulse topulse. It

is claimed that observed data on airborne aircraft targets agree with Swerling Models I

and II.

Swerling III and IV models are desc ribed by the Chi squared distribution with

four degrees of freedom. They are conceptualized as many independent reflectors of

roughly equal amplitude with one dominating reflector (Figure 2.3b). The Swerling III

model varies slowly— from scan to scan while the Swerling IV model fluctuates

7

quickly— from pulse to pulse. The Swerling III/IV model is said to well characterize a

frigate or corvette with one large target but with complex superstructures.

2.4.2 Clutter

Clutter is unwanted radar returns. They may be a echoes from the environ

ment— as from ground, mountain, sea— or objects of no importance— as a flock of

geese. Designation of clutter changes with the aims and designs of the radar system. A

doppler weather system, for instance, may regard radar returns from a storm cloud

with prime importance while the same cloud may only be interference to a civilian air

traffic control radar. The stochastic characteristic of clutter varies with the operating

parameters of the radar as well as the nature of the clutter source (Table 2.2).

Older radar systems had longer pulse repetition intervals and larger range bins.

It was observed that ground clutter was well characterized with a Gaussian distribu

tion. However, as technology improved, and shorter pulse repetition intervals gave

greater range resolution, large spikes in amplitude were observed in radar data. The

 

Table 2.2. Clutter Types

 

Model

Application

Equation

 
     

x  

 

2  

2

2

Gaussian

Clouds

p x



1

2 2 
2
2


exp

 

   

v

1

Weibull Clutter

Land Clutter



p x

4

h

v



v

x K

v

1

2

hx

Kdistribution

Sea Clutter

p x









cx

bb

c

1

exp

 x   b

c

 

8

Gaussian distribution no longer fitted.

Studies during the late 70’s and early 80’s found that ground clutter were more

accurately characterized with a Weibull distribution. Unlike the Gaussian distribution,

the Weibull is characterized by two variables: a shaping coefficient and a mean coeffi

cient.

In contrast with ground clutter, sea clutter is highly correlated. The two

parameter kdistribution well characterizes this.

2.4.3 Noise

Gaussian white noise results from random thermal motion in electronic sys

tems. Unlike target and clutter returns, noise is always present. As implied by its

name, Gaussian noise is characterized by the bellshaped Gaussian distribution.

2.4.4 Square Law Detector

The stochastic characteristic of received radar signals may change at the diode

detector. The diode conductance characteristic is shown figure 2.4. Depending on the

strength of the received signal, the detector may either operate in the conductance

square or in the linear region. Each offers its advantages. Marcum showed that if the

signal is low, lying below the conductance knee, the square law detector gave the best

results. Linear detectors, meanwhile, offers the greatest dynamic range and is best for

high signals. Mathematically, in analysis, the square law detector offers additional ad

vantages.

9

Both Rayleigh and Gaussian PDF’s, passing through the square law detector,

become exponential distributions (Figure 2.5). Given the relative simplicity of integra

tion of the exponential function, this fact comes in handy in analytical treatments of

target detection and false alarm rates.

10

30 Square Law Linear Law 25 20 15 10 5 0 0 1 2 3
30
Square Law
Linear Law
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Figure 2.4. Diode Conductance Characteristic. Radar detection can either occur in the linear or the square region of the diode.

occur in the linear or the square region of the diode. (a) (b) Figure 2.5. Radar

(a)

in the linear or the square region of the diode. (a) (b) Figure 2.5. Radar Return

(b)

Figure 2.5. Radar Return Statistics Before and After Square Law Detector . The square law detector changes stochastic PDF of the signal

(a)

Gaussian Distribution. For Swerling targets I and II, none of the independent scattering elements dominates: their reflected powers is comparable to one another.

(b)

Exponential Distribution. For Swerling targets III and IV, there is a single dominant non fluctuating scatter together with other smaller scatters.

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(a)

Figure 2.6. Homogeneous Environment

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(b)

(a)

There is just one target of power 25dB at range gate 37. The noise power is uniform at 5dB.

(b)

MATLAB simulation of homogeneous environment.

2.5 Radar Signal Environment

A number of different simplified RADAR environments have been used to assess

and judge the efficacy and applicability of the various CFAR algorithm. Although no

one model captures the full complexity and nuance of actual operating conditions, they

each test important qualities of the CFAR algorithm: The homogeneous environment,

the multiple target environment, and the clutter edge environment.

2.5.1 Homogeneous

The homogeneous environment is the most straight forward: It assumes a sin

gle target against an independent and identically distributed (iid) noise or clutter

(Figure 2.6).

A homogeneous environment may arise when, for instance, the radar antenna

makes no detection, and noise of a uniform power dominates the range bins; or when

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Figure 2.7. Multiple Targets.

(a) At range gates 37 and 42, there are targets of power 25dB. (b) MATLAB simulation of multiple targets with exponential distribution.

the clutter return over a great stretch of distance is of a constant environment (say, a

forest, mountain, or ocean).

The homogeneous model assesses the ability of various CFAR algorithms as the

simplest test for properly assessing its ability to estimate the noise/clutter mean in set

ting the threshold of detection.

2.5.2 Multiple Targets

Targets of interest, however, don’t always exist in isolation along the range

gates of a given doppler bin. By chance or design, targets may be within close proximity

of one another (Figure 2.6).

Some CFAR algorithms suffer serious performative decline in multiple target

cases. When the targets are within hal f a window length of one another, their high

powers, improperly elevates the estimated mean of the background noise/clutter.

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(a) Figure 2.8. Clutter Edge.

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(b)

(a)

At range gate 41, there is a sudden jump in clutter power; from 5dB to 10dB.

(b)

MATLAB simulation of a clutter edge with exponential distribution.

When the resulting thresholds are set, they are higher than they lead to be, and result

in