Next Generation PSR

The current generation of Primary Surveillance Radars (PSR) meet the needs for aircraft tracking, in civil or military aviation, to a standard that was set many years ago.  However, those needs are evolving.  Particular areas of change are being investigated; improved discrimination between targets (eg. aircraft vs wind turbines), and the reduction in the spectral bandwidth dedicated to PSR.  These changes are based on the upcoming rationalisation of UK Spectrum being driven by the Government ( To meet these and other challenges, PSR itself needs to evolve.

These issues can be addressed by re-addressing features of radars that have dominated PSR design since the 1940s - for example the concept of the radar 'beam'.  For the last few decades, the radar 'beam', scanning across the airspace, has provided an efficient way of detecting and measuring the position and trajectory of aircraft over time. The concept of a narrowly-directed beam, searching sequentially in different parts of the airspace, has become the guiding principle for PSR design - leading from mechanically-scanned systems to electronic scanning and now Active Electronically Scanned Arrays (AESA).

However, that approach inevitably limits a PSR's 'dwell time' on any one target. It also means that managing each individual beam is a major computational burden for the system. The limitation (which limits the information that can be gathered from any target) and burden (which means that computing power is diverted into managing the radar rather than searching for and analysing targets) make new advances in radar functionality increasingly elusive and expensive, should the same design approach be used. The right solution is to remove the beam limitation entirely by illuminating and interrogating the entire field of view, collecting continuous information from each target before applying the analysis tools.  Modern computing now makes this affordable.

This is the case with Holographic Radar™. It meets the two challenges identified above, and many others. Because it dwells permanently on all targets, it can discriminate between target types such as aircraft and wind turbines or weather features, and it requires only limited radio spectrum. It is 3-dimensional, and can be operated in a coherent, dispersed network giving regional or national coverage.

In the future, the increasingly complex air picture requires substantial additional capabilities in Primary Surveillance Radar, and Holographic Radar™ offers the necessary capabilities.