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TÜBİTAK BİLGEM Radar Technologies The Process from KUŞRAD to GÖZCÜ for Low RCS Air Target Detection

Issue 106

The TÜBİTAK Informatics and Information Security Research Center (BİLGEM) is a national R&D center that produces innovative and national solutions to meet the needs of our country with its studies in the fields of informatics, information security, and advanced electronics. TÜBİTAK BİLGEM started its activities in radar technologies in 2010 and is still carrying out the design and development activities of different radar systems that allow the surveillance of all kinds of movements in airspace for commercial and military purposes.

TÜBİTAK BİLGEM has carried out the following projects within the past 11 years: the KUŞRAD, which is a kind of Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave (FMCW) Radar, Solid-State Pulse-Doppler Primary Surveillance Radar (PSR) system, FODRAD Millimeter Wave (MMW) radar system, Mobile Coastal Surveillance System (MSGS), SDRAD, Passive Radar (PYAS) and Phased Array Radar Projects, respectively. The Institute is still continuing studies on active electronically scanned array radars, and in 2020, TÜBİTAK BİLGEM started to work on GÖZCÜ, an X-Band FMCW radar system for the detection of low Radar Cross-Section (RCS) air targets. TÜBİTAK BİLGEM also develops three different algorithms for Aselsan under the ASR-EİRS Project: Wind Turbine Interference Elimination, Bird Detection, and Weather Prediction.

TÜBİTAK BİLGEM started its R&D studies on the Avian Radar (KUŞRAD) System in 2010 and completed its prototype in 2014. The system consists of an S-Band horizontal scanning pulse radar and a Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave (FMCW) radar that conducts vertical sweeps. Developed jointly with the General Directorate of State Airports Authority (DHMİ), the KUŞRAD system is a bird-aircraft collision avoidance radar system capable of detecting and monitoring birds (minimum 0.01 m2 RCS), flocks of birds, and aircraft, uninterruptedly 24 hours a day with a 40 km maximum range. KUŞRAD can track 500 targets simultaneously and can identify and classify targets based on their distance, altitude, direction, speed, and route information. 

KUŞRAD was commissioned in 2016 and was installed at two different sites at the Istanbul Atatürk Airport (on runway 17 and runway 23, there are two separate radars at each location for horizontal and vertical scanning).  With the system, TÜBİTAK BİLGEM developed its first radar solution, which can detect air targets with a low radar cross-section. During tests, KUŞRAD managed to detect a target with an RCS value of 0.01m2 from 3-4km (drones were used to simulate birds during the tests). It is considered that this capability could also be used for drone detection. At the Military Radar & Border Security Summit held in Ankara on October 2-3, 2018, TÜBİTAK BİLGEM pointed out that low RCS air target detection capability was developed by using KUŞRAD technology. As far as I know, KUŞRAD, which can detect bird flocks in night conditions and provides great convenience to pilots, is also used at Istanbul Airport and Hatay Airport.  

FODRAD (FOD Detection System) is a millimeter-wave (MMW) radar system that detects foreign object debris (FOD) on the runway and warns the operator. The system was developed under the R&D Project signed in December 2014 in cooperation with TÜBİTAK BİLGEM and DHMİ. FODRAD can display real-time FOD information, provide a user interface for inspection and report, and record statistical information. The FODRAD MMW Radar, which operates at a 94GHz frequency, is the first FOD detection radar developed in Turkey. FODRAD, which can perform 24/7 automatic surveillance continuously, has four millimeter-wave radars and four electro-optical sensors with day/night vision capability. The system, which can be controlled and monitored from a single main center, alerts the operator after it detects a foreign object on the runway with its radars and displays the position of the foreign object on the screen using its cameras. The FODRAD System aims to prevent accidents caused by FOD (Foreign Object Damage). 

The production studies of the system were completed in 2018. FODRAD was first installed at the International Antalya Airport on four different towers at the end of 2018 to further improve flight safety. According to the TÜBİTAK 2019 Annual Report, the installation and field acceptance tests of the FODRAD System at Antalya Airport were completed in 2019. It was also stated that with some changes, FODRAD could also be used for the detection of military air targets/threats with low RCS levels. According to the TÜBİTAK 2020 Annual Report published recently, TÜBİTAK transferred technology to HAVELSAN in 2020 for the serial production of KUŞRAD and FODRAD Systems.

Another radar system developed by TÜBİTAK BİLGEM against low RCS air targets is the Coherent S-Band Radar (SDRAD). According to the information we received, SDRAD is a coherent, solid-state pulse-doppler radar system developed to detect targets with low radar cross-sections such as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV). The Coherent S-Band Radar (SDRAD) system can be reconfigured and easily re-adapted depending on the application. SDRAD, with a peak power of 3kW, has an instrumental range of 40km and an angular resolution of 1.8 degrees with a range of 15m.

According to the TÜBİTAK 2020 Annual Report, TÜBİTAK BİLGEM started the development of the GÖZCÜ X-Band FMCW radar system for the detection of low Radar Cross-Section (RCS) air targets in 2020. In this context, the mechanical productions of the transmit/receive (T/R) antenna and chassis of the GÖZCÜ Radar System have been completed, including the integration of antenna, pedestal, software, and RF hardware