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Robust, Light-Weight Bistatic Weather Radar



OBJECTIVE: The objective of this topic is to develop a light-weight bistatic Doppler weather radar. The bistatic Doppler weather radar architecture should focus on robustness, reliability, and ruggedization of the equipment. The proposal will provide an innovative solution for a light-weight bistatic radar allowing ease in deployment, implementation, and operation. Solution will include an architecture which also improves upon existing Air Force capabilities, via an assessment, in specifications including, but not limited to reduction in attenuation, enhanced detectability of severe weather signatures, detectability of various precipitation types for operationally relevant ranges, increased Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) (e.g., stepper motor replacement > 36 months), increased operational rates, and reduction in down-time due to maintenance. 

DESCRIPTION: The Air Force Weather Enterprise uses weather radar data and products to enable military decision-makers to obtain a timely and accurate picture of the operational environment and to maintain battlespace awareness. Real-time weather information is provided, in part, by portable Doppler radar weather systems that can be transported to deployed locations, setup quickly, and utilize DoD communications infrastructure. The weather information that these systems provide includes reflectivity for storm track information, velocity azimuth display, surface rainfall accumulation, and storm relative mean radial velocity; this data provides military weather forecasters with key information to issue weather warnings to protect personnel and assets. The information must be delivered to the Air Force Weather Enterprise to use as part of a comprehensive and ongoing environmental analysis and mission impact assessment. Previously procured commercial systems and SBIR efforts have provided traditional solutions using monostatic technology. However, single Doppler radars traditionally have problems detecting wind structure of weather events such as a sand storms and complex thunderstorms. Additionally, coverage is limited to the local area surrounding the site and not along wider swaths of terrain or flight paths. This problem can be corrected using bistatic radars, where a pair of radars could be used to monitor a larger area of concern than a single system alone. A major cost driver of the existing monostatic systems is the damage done to the stepper motor when the units are removed from the mast for maintenance. Additionally, these systems are often deployed in areas where sand and debris are prevalent. The Air Force needs a reliable (software and hardware), maintainable (field-replaceable/upgradeable standard parts), ruggedized (high probability of surviving military transportation, handling by a forklift on a standard pallet, with each packed container hand-portable by a maximum of two persons), and cost-effective solution. While the goal of this effort is to develop a bistatic weather radar, this effort should achieve, at minimum the following thresholds (1) Develop and analyze the validity of bistatic radar utilization for doppler weather applications through a thorough system engineering study, (2) Design the hardware and software to achieve allow bistatic radar operation for weather radar (3) Achieve, and exceed performance factors of present monostatic radars in the Air Force Weather Enterprise, such as the EWR E700 XD (, (4) Meet, and exceed system performance factors found in the “Technical Requirements Document (TRD) for the Portable Dopper Radar (PDR)” document. It should be noted that the need for government materials, equipment, date, or facilities is not anticipated and will not be provided. 

PHASE I: Research into the applicable technologies related to light-weight, bistatic Doppler weather radars, processing data from the radar sensors, delivering the data over the DoD IT infrastructure and delivering a proposed solution to exceed the current AF portable Doppler radar capabilities. 

PHASE II: Design, develop, deliver, and demonstrate a breadboard-level prototype of a light-weight bistatic Doppler radar solution that was proposed in Phase I. Users will be brought in to provide feedback on operational suitability. Provide comparison and assessment of prototype with existing AF system considering at least the following factors: attenuation, detectability of severe weather signatures, detectability of various precipitation at various ranges, Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) rates, expected operational/in-commission rate, and expected down-time for maintenance. 

PHASE III: Finalize the design and development of the proposed solution and demonstrate preparedness for low rate production. Users satisfaction with the finalized light weight radar is paramount. 


1: "E700XD Portable Doppler Weather Radar",, EWR Weather Radar, 2017.

2:  Refer to DoD 8570.1 for information assurance accreditation requirements. Other DoD and AF directives may apply.

3:  Cote A. Steven, "Technical Requirements Document (TRD) for the Portable Doppler Radar (PDR)", 651st Electronic Systems Squadron, May 27, 2009.

KEYWORDS: Portable, Bistatic, Doppler, Radar, Weather 


Mr. Russell Vela (AFRL/RYMH) 

(937) 713-8106 

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