Radar systems operating at millimetre wavelengths offer a number of advantages over lower frequency microwave radars.  Principally these are compact system size plus high spatial and range resolution.  In comparison with LIDAR, mm-wave radar can penetrate through obscurants far better than optical systems. Millimetre wave radars are steadily finding more and more applications as their advantages are exploited and the technology becomes more affordable.  Some examples include:-

  • Missile Guidance Seekers:
  • Fire Control Radar
    • The precision offered by mmw radars make them suitable for precision targeting of weapons systems.  The best example is the Longbow radar fitted to the Apache helicopter.
  • Cloud Profiling Radar (CPR)
    • The structure of clouds can be probed with mmw radar, especially at 94GHz.  To date, these systems are either ground based or flown on research aircraft, but two spaceborne CPRs are planned, EarthCARE and CloudSat.
  • Automotive Radar
    • Collision avoidance radars operating at typically 24, 60 or 77GHz have been developed for fitting in the front of vehicles.  If the distance to the vehicle in front gets too small, a warning is given, or the cruise control system applies the brakes.
  • Tank Level Gauges
    • Measuring the level of liquids or powders in tanks is difficult using optical methods, especially if there are dust or fumes present.  Miniature radar units can measure the depth from the top of the tank to the surface of the contents with very high precision.
  • Autonomous Vehicle Guidance
    • Robot vehicles capable of autonomous motion requires sensors to guide them.  Millimetre wave radars can generate high resolution terrain maps even in bad weather.