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NRC Airborne W and X-Band (NAWX) Polarimetric Doppler Radar System

The National Research Council Institute for Aerospace Research (NRC Aerospace), in cooperation with ProSensing Inc., is currently developing a state-of-the-art dual frequency airborne radara system for atmospheric and flight safety research for its Convair-580 research aircraft. The choice of W and X-bands for the NRC Airborne radar system is based on their suitability for airborne installation (less power and smaller antennas) while providing high resolution and high sensitivity for the detection of weak clouds, and the expected research applications of the radar. The NAWX system will have a fully polarimetric and Doppler measurement capability at both frequencies. A summary of the NAWX system specifications is listed in the table below. The two radars of the NAWX system will have the following common features:

  • Two channel digital receivers.
  • Electronic switching at both frequencies, allowing near-simultaneous sampling of the atmosphere in three planes along the flightline using six antennas.
  • Innovative design incorporating of a NRC developed INS-GPS integrated navigation system for real-time Doppler corrections.
  • Synchronized operation and data collection for dual-wavelength analysis, and pulse pair and FFT Doppler processing.
The NAWX sub-systems include six 12-26" antennas and a motorized reflector plate that are housed in a blister radome on the starboard side of the aircraft. This antenna configuration and the fast electronic switching allows near simultaneous measurements of vertical and horizontal cross-sections of radar polarimetric and Doppler data. The NAWX W-band antenna and reflector configurations allow dual-Doppler measurements in horizontal (side-looking) or nadir directions. The W-band radar has a capability to run in liner FM chirp mode providing high sensitivity to detect weak cloud while the X-band radar will provide larger scale cloud structures. The NAWX radar system will be integrated on the NRC Convair-580 aircraft by December 2005.

NAWX Specification W-Band X-Band
RF Output Frequency 9,41 Ghz +/-30 Mhz 94.05 Ghz
Peak Transmit Power 25 kW magnetron split between 2 ports 1.7 kW typical
Transmit Polarization H and V H or V
Maximum Pulse Repetition Rate 5 kHz 15 kHz
Transmitter Max Duty Cycle 0.1% 3%
Pulse Width 0.11-1 µs 0.1-10 µs (standard or linear FM chirped)
Antenna Ports (electronically selectable) 4 (between two pairs) 5
Receiver Channels 2 2
Receiver Polarization Simultaneous H and V Co and cross-polarization
Doppler Pulse pair and FFT Pulse pair and FFT
Transmitter Front-End Loss 1.5 dB typical 3.5 dB typical
Receiver Front-End Loss 1.5 dB typical 3.0 dB typical
LNA Noise Figure 2.8 dB typical 4.8 dB typical
IF Output to Digital Receiver 60 MHz 54 MHz
Antennas 1x 26" dual-polarization
2x 18" single-polarization
2x 12" dual-polarization
1x 12" single-polarization
Minimum Detectable @ 5 km -5 dBZ (150 m resolution) -30 dBZ (60 m resolution with 10x pulse compression)