Chapter 4

Inventory of Federal Radar Use

This chapter will briefly survey the principal uses of radar by various Federal Government agencies. So that the reader can relate the material presented in previous chapters to the applications describe here, the kinds of radars generally employed in the applications will be categorized as land-based, shipborne, airborne, or spaceborne.

Federal Aviation Administration:

Air Traffic Control

The national air traffic control system operated by the FAA has as its purpose the safe and efficient operation of aircraft flying in the vicinity of airports, aircraft flying enroute from one airport to another, and aircraft and vehicles on the ground at airports. Commercial aviation and general aviation, as well as military aircraft, are all included within the purview of an air traffic control system.

Several different radars are employed for the control of air traffic. The airport surveillance radar (ASR) provides information on the location and movement of all aircraft flying within the vicinity of airports. It is sometimes referred to as a terminal radar. The air route surveillance radar (ARSR) has as its purpose the detection and tracking of aircraft that are enroute from one airport to another with a radar range of about 200 nautical miles. For this reason, it is sometimes called an enroute radar. The airport surface detection equipment (ASDE) is a radar that maps the airport surface to provide information to the controller concerning aircraft on the ground as well as certain vehicular traffic within the airport. The ASR and ARSR radars also provide the air traffic controller with the location of hazardous weather. The location of dangerous weather phenomena such as "downbursts" and windshear can be pinpointed with a specially configured terminal Doppler weather radar (TDWR) located near airports. On board FAA aircraft, there are radar altimeters as well as radionavigation and weather radars. Further, for vehicle speed detection on one of its facilities, the FAA operate a Doppler speed detection radar. The following table depicts the range of radars operated by the FAA and their operating frequency bands.

Radar

Category

Radar

Function

Frequency Band (MHz)
Land Based Air Route Surveillance 1240-1370
Airport Surveillance 2700-2900
Weather Radars 2700-3000

5600-5650

Airport Surface Detection Equipment 15700-16600
Vehicle Speed Detection 10450-10550
Airborne Aircraft Altimeter 4200-4400
Radionavigation & Weather 8750-8850
Shipborne Radionavigation & Weather 9300-9500

The military departments also provide air traffic control primarily at and around their air bases, naval air stations, and airfields. Their primary ATC radar operates in the 2700-2900 MHz band and the military departments also use the 1030/1090 MHz interrogator-responder systems.

U.S. Coast Guard:

Coastal and Waterway Security

The USCG has four main roles: maritime law enforcement, maritime safety, national defense, and marine environmental protection. In accomplishing these responsibilities, the USCG employs various radars: shipborne maritime radionavigation and search radars; shipborne air search and surveillance radars; radar beacons; radar altimeters; airborne maritime Doppler navigation and surveillance radars; airborne search and rescue radars; land-based and shipborne harbor surveillance radars; and radar speed detection devices. An inventory of the USCG radars is described in the following table:

Radar

Category

Radar

Function

Frequency Band (MHz)
Land Based Harbor Surveillance 9300-9500
Radionavigational Aids 2900-3100

9300-10000

Vehicle Speed Detection 10450-10525

Shipborne
Search & Surveillance 420-450

9200-10000

Radionavigation & Search 2900-3100
Airborne Surveillance Radars 420-450
Radar Altimeters 4200-4400
Navigation & Surveillance 8500-9000

9000-9200

9200-9600

Search & Rescue 9000-9200

9200-9600

13250-13400

Department of the Navy:

National Defense

The primary mission of the Department of the Navy is to protect the United States by the effective prosecution of war at sea including, with its Marine Corps component, the seizure or defense of advanced naval bases; to support, as required, the forces of all military departments of the United States; and to maintain freedom of the seas. Naval and marine forces depend heavily on radar systems and many of their radars can be categorized as: land-based national air defense radars; naval surveillance and navigation radars; naval fire-control radars; airborne surveillance and navigation radars; airborne fire-control radars; battlefield, missile control and ground surveillance radars; land-based air defense; air traffic control for land-based Naval Air Stations and carrier-based flight operations; and range safety, surveillance, and instrumentation radars. The following table depicts the inventory of naval and marine forces radars. The frequency bands indicated are the bands where the radars are authorized to operate and may not reflect the complete tuning range for some of the radar systems.(1)

Radar

Category

Radar

Function

Frequency Band (MHz)

Shipborne
Search & Surveillance 420-450
Navigation & Search 420-450
Search & Surveillance 902-928
Long-Range Surveillance 1215-1390
Long-Range Surveillance 2900-3100
Fleet Air Defense System 3100-3500
Missile & Gunfire-control 3400-3650
Long-Range Surveillance 3500-3650
Long-Range Surveillance 3550-3650
Aircraft Carrier ATC-PAR 3550-3650
Missile & Gunfire-control 5250-5800
Surface-to-Air Missile Control 5400-5900
Sea Surface Search 5400-5900
Ship Positioning NAVAID 5400-5550
Missile & Gunfire-control 8500-9600
Submarine Surface Nav/Search 8500-9000
Fire-control & Surveillance 8500-9600
Navigation & Surveillance 9300-10000
Guided Missile Fire-control 10000-10550
Combat Surveillance 10000-10550
Missile & Gunfire-control 10200-10500
Missile & Gunfire-control 13400-14400
Aircraft Carrier ATC-PAR 15300-15900
Gunfire-control 16000-17000
Navigational 16000-17000
Aircraft Carrier ATC-PAR 31800-33400
Fire-control 92000-100000
Airborne Early Warning 420-450
Radar Altimeters 4200-4400
Radar Transponders 5500-5900
ASW Search & Detection 8500-9600
Weapons Fire-control/Targeting 9200-9800
Maritime Surveillance 9200-9800
Helicopter Search 9200-9800
ASW Search & Detection 9600-10000
Radar Transponders 9200-10000
Helicopter Nav/Search 13250-13400

Land Based
Over-the-Horizon 3-30
Space Surveillance 216-220
Tactical Air Defense 1215-1390
Base ATC Search 2700-2900
Weather 2700-2900
Tactical Long-Range Surveillance 2900-3100
Weather 5600-5650
Airfield Precision Approach 9000-9200
Battlefield Weapons Locating 9300-10000
Battlefield NAVAID 9300-10000
Perimeter Surveillance 10200-10500
Vehicle Speed Detection 10450-10550
Battlefield Weapons Locating 15840-16160
Battlefield Precision Approach 15300-15900
Vehicle Speed Detection 24050-24250
Range Safety, Surveillance, Target Tracking & Instrumentation 5400-5900
9200-9600
9600-10000
10000-10550
15700-17300

Department of the Army:

National Defense

As part of our national military team, the Army focuses on land operations. Its soldiers are trained with modern arms and equipment and are ready to respond quickly. In the battlefield environment, the Army relies on radars for success. The Army spectrum of radars that it operates and trains on can be categorized as: land-based air defense radars; battlefield, missile control and ground surveillance radars; airborne surveillance and navigation radars; military ATC radars; and range safety, surveillance, and instrumentation (telemetry) radars. The table below depicts the various Army radar functions and operating frequency bands:

Radar

Category

Radar

Function

Frequency Band (MHz)

Land Based
Battlefield Ground Surveillance 420-450
Position Location 420-450
Battlefield Early Warning 1215-1390
Man-portable Early Warning 1215-1390
Air Defense 1215-1390
Airfield ATC Search 2700-2900
Battlefield ATC Search 2700-2900
Weather Radars 2700-2900
Air Defense 2900-3100
Battlefield Weapons Locating 3100-3400
Doppler Radar Sensors 3100-3400
Battlefield Missile Surveillance 5250-5925
Battlefield Missile Tracking 5250-5925
Weather Radars 5600-5650
Battlefield Search & Surveillance 8500-9600
Battlefield Weapons Locating 8500-9600
Airfield Precision Approach 9000-9200
Battlefield GCA 9000-9600
Battlefield Air Defense 9200-10000
Battlefield Weapons Locating 9200-10000
Anti-aircraft Gun Fire-control 9200-9500
Weather Radars 9200-9500
Battlefield Surveillance 10000-10550
Perimeter Intrusion Detection 10000-10550
Vehicle Speed Detection 10450-10550
Battlefield Microwave Landing System 15300-15900
Portable Ground Surveillance 15700-17300
Battlefield Weapons Locating 15700-17300
Battlefield Surveillance & Tracking 15700-17300
Battlefield Weapons Fire-control 15700-17300
Vehicle Speed Detection 24050-24250
Doppler Radars >30000
Range Safety, Surveillance, Target Tracking, & Instrumentation Radars 902-928
1215-1390
5250-5925
9200-10000
33400-36000
Airborne Radar Altimeters 4200-4400
Radar Beacons 5250-5925
Side Looking Airborne Radar 9200-9500
Navigation, Weather, & Mapping 9200-10000

Department of the Air Force:

National Defense

The Department of the Air Force is responsible for defending the United States through control and exploitation of air and space. Radars are heavily employed by the Air Force and many can be categorized as: land-based national air defense radars; ground surveillance radars; airborne surveillance and navigation radars; airborne fire-control radars; spaceborne radars; military ATC radars; and range safety, surveillance, and instrumentation radars. The following table describes the Air Force's inventory of radars:

Radar

Category

Radar

Function

Frequency Band (MHz)
Land Based Intrusion Detection VHF
Long Range Surveillance 420-450
Air Defense 1215-1390
Search Radars 1215-1390
Base Search Radars 2700-2900
Airfield Search Radars 2700-2900
Weather Radars 2700-3000
Airfield Surveillance Radars 2900-3100
Airfield ATC Radars 3100-3650
Bomb Scoring Radars 3100-3650
Weather Radars 5600-5650
Target Bomb Scoring 8500-9000
Airfield PAR 9000-9200
Base PAR 9000-9200
Bomb Scoring Radars 9200-10000
Intrusion Detection 9200-10000
Intrusion Detection 10000-10550
Perimeter Surveillance 10000-10550
Vehicle Speed Detection 10450-10550
Missile Guidance/Control 15700-16600
Missile Guidance/Control 16600-17300
Vehicle Speed Detection 24050-24250
Cloud Height Detection 33400-36000
Vehicle Speed Detection 33400-36000
Range Safety, Surveillance, & Instrumentation Radars 902-928
1215-1390
2700-2900
5400-5925
15700-16600
33400-36000

Airborne
Airborne Surveillance 3100-3650
Search & Surveillance 3350-3600
Radar Altimeters 4200-4400
Fire-control & Intercept 8500-9000
Multi-mode Fire-control 9200-10000
Intercept Radars 9200-10000
Navigation & Mapping 9200-10000
Navigation & Weather 9200-10000
Beacon Rendezvous 9200-10000
Terrain Following/Avoidance 9200-10000
Maritime Surveillance 9200-10000
Search & Rescue Radars 9200-10000
Fire-control Radars 9200-10000
Multi-mode Doppler Navigation 13250-13400
All Weather Target Attack 15700-16600
Multi-mode Fire-control 15700-16600
Intercept Radars 15700-16600
Terrain Mapping & Avoidance 15700-16600
Multi-mode Doppler Navigation 16600-17300
Intercept Radars 16600-17300
Terrain Mapping & Avoidance 16600-17300
Navigation & Weather 31800-33400
Beacon Rendezvous Radars 31800-33400
Terrain Following & Avoidance 31800-33400
Long Range Mapping 31800-33400

National Aeronautics and Space

Administration: Space Research

NASA conducts flight research for the solution of problems of flight within and outside the Earth's atmosphere and develops, constructs, tests, and operates aeronautical and space vehicles. It also conducts Earth exploration experiments and operations for Earth observation and aids in resource monitoring, hazard monitoring, and other benefits to the global community. Finally, NASA conducts activities required for the exploration of space with manned and unmanned vehicles and arranges for the most effective utilization of the scientific and engineering resources of the United States with other nations engaged in aeronautical and space activities for peaceful purposes.

Radars are one of its chief tools supporting NASA's mission described above. Its radars almost cover the entire spectrum of frequency bands for radar operations and can generally be grouped as: range safety, surveillance, and instrumentation (telemetry) radars; airborne transponders; airborne search and navigation radars; airborne and ground weather radars; radar altimeters; maritime search and surveillance radars; space transportation system (STS, space shuttle) navigational radars; planetary radars; STS landing system radars; airborne surveying radar altimeters; cloud detection and profiling radars; aircraft radiometer beacons; ocean wave, wind, and vortex research radars; spaceborne SAR's, altimeters, scatterometers, precipitation and cloud profile radars. The table below describes NASA's inventory of radars:

Radar

Category

Radar Function Frequency Band (MHz)
Shipborne Search & Surveillance 2900-3100
Navigational & Search 9300-9500
Land Based Range Safety, Surveillance, & Instrumentation Radars 2700-2900
3000-3500
5250-5925
9200-9500
Search & Surveillance 420-450
Wind Measurement Radars 902-928
Planetary Radars 2310-2345
Weather Radars 5600-5650
Planetary Radars 8500-9000
Vortex Research Radars 9200-9500
Ground Weather Radars 9300-9500
Wind Shear Measurement 9300-9500
Vehicle Speed Detection 10450-10550
STS Landing System 15460-15616
Vehicle Speed Detection 24050-2250
Vehicle Speed Detection 34400-36000
Vortex Research Radars 34900-35800
Airborne Search & Navigation 5250-5925
Airborne Transponders 5400-5900
Precision Tracking Radars 9000-9200
Search & Navigation 9200-9500
Airborne Weather Radars 9300-9500
Airborne Transponders 9300-9500
Radar Altimeters 4200-4400
Ocean Wave Spectrometer 13250-13400
Ground/Ocean Mapping 33400-36000
Aircraft Radiometer Beacons 85000
Aircraft Radiometer Beacons 92000-95000
Cloud Detection & Profiling Radars 92000-95000
Spaceborne SAR Imaging Radars 1215-1300
SAR Imaging Radars 3100-3300
SAR's, Altimeters, and Scatterometers 5250-5460
SAR's, Altimeters, and Scatterometers 8550-8650
SAR's, Altimeters, and Scatterometers 9500-9800
Weather Radars 9975-10025
Altimeters, Scatterometers, Precipitation Radars 13250-13750
Scatterometers, & Precipitation Radars 17200-17300
Scatterometers, & Precipitation Radars 24050-24250
Altimeters & Precipitation Radars 35500-36000
Altimeters & Precipitation Radars 78000-79000
Cloud Profile Radars 94000-94100

Department of Commerce:

Environmental Monitoring

The DOC has many different bureaus that encourage, serve, and promote the nation's international trade, economic growth, and technological advancement. The NOAA works to improve our understanding and benefits of the Earth's physical environment and oceanic resources. NOAA is the largest user of radars in the DOC and its radars support the National Marine Fisheries Service, National Ocean Service, Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, National Weather Service, and National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service. NOAA's radars can be categorized as: land-based search and surveillance radars; land-based radionavigational radars; weather radars; shipborne surveillance and navigational radars; airborne surveillance and navigational radars; aircraft weather radars; radar altimeters; coastal and marine sanctuaries surveillance radars; and radar speed gun. The following table depicts the variety of radars employed by the DOC:

Radar

Category

Radar

Function

Frequency Band (MHz)
Land Based Wind Profilers 404
Wind Profilers 449
Weather Radars 2700-3000
Weather Radars 5600-5650
Balloon Tracking Radars 8500-9000
Atmospheric Research 9200-10000
Marine Sanctuary Surveillance Radars 9200-10000
Radionavigation Radars 9300-9500
Vehicle Speed Detection 10450-10550
Shipborne Radionavigation & Search 2900-3100
Airborne Radar Altimeters 4200-4400
Weather Research & Nav 5370-5480
Radionavigation & Weather 9300-9500

Department of Energy:

Science and Technology Research

The DOE is a leading science and technology agency whose research supports our nation's energy security, national security, environmental quality, and contributes to a better quality of life for all Americans. Quite an array of radiocommunications is used to facilitate many of the DOE's programs in its laboratories or at its many test ranges. Many radars are employed by DOE to support its mission at its many test ranges, sites, and facilities. Radars are used for perimeter monitoring; motion sensing; weather research and environmental monitoring; security surveillance; terrain mapping and air sampling; weapon system testing and flight test tracking; joint programs with other agencies; and a variety of research and development programs. Radars can be generally categorized as intrusion detection radars; fixed and mobile search and surveillance radars; range safety, surveillance, and instrumentation radars; aircraft radionavigation and weather radars; mobile meteorological radars; speed gun radars; wind profiler radars; airborne radar transponders; atmospheric and cloud research radars. The table below provides an inventory of the various radars employed by DOE:

Radar

Category

Radar

Function

Frequency Band (MHz)
Land Based Intrusion Detection Radars 30-100
Wind Profiler Radars 404
449
Mobile Search Radars 420-450
Wind Profiler Radars 915
Surveillance Radars 8500-9000
Mobile Weather Radars 8500-9000
Vehicle Speed Detection 10450-10550
Atmospheric Research 15700-16600
Vehicle Speed Detection 24050-24250
Atmospheric Research 33400-36000
Range Safety, Surveillance, Target & Missile Tracking, & Instrumentation Radars 1215-1390

2900-3100

3100-3650
5400-5900
8500-9000
9200-9600

Airborne Radar Transponders 5250-5925
Radionavigation Radars 5350-5460
Weather Radars 9300-9500

U.S. Department of Agriculture:

Supporting Production of Agriculture

The USDA, in addition to developing and expanding the markets of agricultural products, works to enhance the environment and to maintain production capacity by helping landowners protect the soil, water, forests, and other natural resources. The Departments's research findings benefit all Americans. Radar devices are used by the Department to support its mission areas of research and the management of natural resources and the environment. Its inventory of radars includes airborne weather radars, maritime surveillance radars, entomological radars, and pulse radars and are described in the following table:

Radar

Category

Radar

Function

Frequency Band (MHz)
Land Based Entomological Radar (Insect Research) 9300-9500
Natural Resource Management 9300-9500
Vehicle Speed Detection 10450-10550
Shipborne Maritime Search Radar 9200-9500
Airborne Airborne Weather Radar 9300-9500

Department of the Interior:

Land and Resources Management

The DOI manages the nation's public lands and mineral resources, national parks, national wildlife refuges, and western water resources. Radars aid the DOI in its land and resource management by providing position location determination in support of geological survey activities: coastal waterway, lake, and river mapping and other related survey activities. Additionally, radar speed detection devices assist park managers with maintaining vehicle speed detection at various national parks. The following table describes the various radars and their operating frequency bands:

Radar

Category

Radar Function Frequency Band (MHz)
Land Based Mobile Geological Survey Radars 5470-5600
9350-9450
10000-10550
Vehicle Speed Detection 10450-10550
24050-24250

Department of Justice:

Law Enforcement

The Department of Justice (DOJ) plays a significant role in protecting American citizens through it efforts for effective law enforcement, crime prevention, and crime detection. In doing so, the Department employs a variety of radiocommunications equipment including radar devices. Radars are employed by the various DOJ agencies for radar altimeters, vehicle tracking, and crime scene investigations. The following table describes the functions and frequency bands employed the DOJ.

Radar

Category

Radar Function Frequency Band (MHz)
Land Based Vehicle Tracking UHF
Crime Scene Investigations UHF
Airborne Radar Altimeters 4200-4400

National Science Foundation:

Research and Testing

The NSF promotes the progress of science and engineering through the support of research and education programs. The NSF employs radars for wind and atmospheric testing, radar altimeter aboard the National Center for Atmospheric Research aircraft, range safety (search radars), and for the study of objects beyond the Moon. An inventory of the types of radars employed by the NSF is described in the table below:

Radar

Category

Radar Function Frequency Band (MHz)
Land Based Atmospheric Research-Wind Profiler Radar 908-928
Radar Astronomy 2380
Weather Radars 2700-2900
Weather Radars 9200-9400
Search Radar 9200-9500
Airborne Radar Altimeters 4200-4400

Department of Treasury:

Law Enforcement

One of the basic functions of the Department of Treasury is law enforcement. Land-based, airborne, and shipborne surveillance and acquisition radars are used by various Treasury agencies to execute their mission. Also, radars are used for automatic vehicle identification. The table below lists some of the radar bands employed by radars of the Treasury Department.

Radar

Category

Radar Function Frequency Band (MHz)
Land Based Surveillance Radars 420-450
2900-3100
9200-9500
Shipborne Maritime Mobile Radar 9400-9500
Airborne Balloon-borne Surveillance Radars 1215-1390

Veterans Administration, US Postal Service, Health and Human Services, General Services Administration:

These agencies employ radars for vehicle speed detection on their various facilities.

Radar

Category

Radar

Function

Frequency Band (MHz)
Land Based Vehicle Speed Detection 10450-10550
24050-24250


Endnotes: Chapter 4

1. Department of Navy email comments from Mr Bruce Swearingen, Director, Naval Electromagnetic Spectrum Center, at 2. (See email from swearinb@navemscen.navy.mil, March 24, 2000 on file at NTIA).


Go to the Report main menu.
Go to the NTIA/OSM Reports web page.
Go to the NTIA/OSM home page.
Go to the NTIA home page.