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Space Based Radar and Its Impact on Aircraft Susceptibility

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Master's thesis

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Since the U.S. does not have the largest military force in the world, it relies on force multipliers to achieve victory. One of these force multipliers is stealth technology. However, when stealth technology is used in modern military aircraft, usually only the forward sector of the aircraft is treated andor shaped. This forward sector treatment is effective against static, ground based radars. However, the aircraft may be very susceptible to a look-down type of radar. This thesis addresses the viability of using space-based radar to detect stealth aircraft. Many papers have been written on how to use space-based radar to detect and track targets. However, these papers neglect to develop the satellite constellation that would be necessary to provide continuous radar coverage. These papers also do not address how susceptible stealth aircraft would be to space-based radar. The approach of this thesis was to select a target area, in this case Iraq, and develop two satellite constellations that could provide the required radar coverage. The next step was to determine if the system would be able to detect and track stealth targets. Based on the analysis, one satellite in geosynchronous orbit can detect stealth aircraft. However, because the satellite is 35,786 km away, the power requirements, as well as the spot size are too large to track stealth aircraft. On the other hand, a constellation of 32 satellites in low earth orbit 1000 km can both detect and track stealth aircraft. In conclusion, if the U.S. does not start applying stealth technology to the upper surface of stealth aircraft, they will be susceptible to space-based radar.

Subject Categories:

  • Radar Countermeasures
  • Unmanned Spacecraft

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