The U.S. army is working on an innovative technology for masking radar emissions in contested territory and environments with heavily congested radio bands.

Effective radar system performance is critical in military operations, particularly in locations under attack or in areas of high traffic density – yet it remains a real challenge for radar system designers to preserve in these circumstances.

Now army researchers have developed an adaptable, noise-encrypted radar waveform called Advanced Pulse Compression Noise (APCN). The technology combines aspects from both traditional and non-traditional radar systems, and can be tuned in real-time to allow system users to adjust radar performance depending on their surroundings.

‘The battlespace is continually evolving, and with that, comes the need to change the way we think about radar design. Techniques such as real-time re-programmable waveform synthesis and low probability of intercept/low probability of detection (LPI/LPD) provide added capability that will address the emerging electromagnetic spectrum challenges our soldiers are likely to face in the future,’ explained Paul Zablocky, director of intelligence and information warfare at the U.S. army’s Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center (CERDEC).

Research scientist, Mark Govoni, who patented the APCN waveform design, said that the encryption of radar waveforms would help limit the likelihood of enemies intercepting and exploiting communications. He suggested that the ability to program in real-time also improved operational effectiveness.

Govoni argued that the secure waveform could also be applied outside of the military by civilian law enforcement. ‘Having the ability to transmit a radar waveform that’s continually changing, one that never repeats itself, and looks like noise, is extremely difficult to intercept and becomes advantageous for police because they can now remain anonymous to radar detectors,’ he said.

An additional advantage of the APCN system, the scientists claim, is its robustness against frequency congestion. The CERDEC team is continuing to improve this resilience with a potential automated add-on called ‘cognitive radar waveform diversity’ which could further reduce problems with interference.