The Battle of Britain (June - September 1940) pitted the air forces of England and Germany in a aerial duel of proportions unknown until that time. The Royal Air Force (RAF), although largely outnumbered, had two advantages. One advantage was that they were fighting on home territory, and the other was the use by the English of a newly-developed electronic device termed RADAR to detect incoming waves of aircraft in time to launch and vector RAF fighters to intercept them. Prime Minister Churchill later proclaimed, about the RAF, "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."
The use of radar during that battle was critical to the outcome. Radar was used to leverage the air resources and skills of the RAF pilots to defeat a superior enemy. Today we call this type of leverage a "force multiplier" where a small number of warfighters can defeat larger numbers by use of these systems. Radar and other electronic systems are important today as force multipliers much as the old "Chain Home" radar system was critical during World War II.
Although the military forces are the primary users of radar systems, other Federal agencies such as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA), and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have critical applications for these systems. The use of radar by the Federal agencies assists in the preservation of life and property, enhances weather forecasting, environmental and resource monitoring, and allows safe and efficient transportation by air and sea.
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) released a report in 1995 entitled U.S. National Spectrum Requirements: Projections and Trends (hereinafter NTIA Requirements Study) where it addressed 18 radio services and developed a spectrum forecast for a 10-year period. The study concluded that eight of these services needed access to additional spectrum in order to satisfy user requirements to the year 2004. The study also concluded that the spectrum allocated for radar use, such as the radionavigation, radiolocation, and meteorological aids radio services, was adequate for the foreseeable future.
However, as a result of spectrum transfers mandated by the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 (OBRA-93)(1), the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 (BBA-97)(2), and the constant pressure on Federal spectrum by potential commercial users, NTIA was requested to undertake a follow-on study to document current and future Federal radar spectrum requirements.
NTIA's approach to this study was to document current Federal radar uses, review radars currently in the systems review cycle, examine the projected life cycles of radar platforms that radars are expected to operate on and support, and investigate research and development efforts that may lead to future radar spectrum requirements.
NTIA believes that the preservation of adequate radar spectrum is imperative, not only for national defense, but for other Federally-mandated services, and should be a high priority for national spectrum managers.
1. Omnibus Budget and Reconciliation Act, Title VI, § 6001(a)(3), Pub. L. No. 103-66, 107 Stat. 379, (Aug. 10, 1993) (codified at 47 U.S.C. § 921 et seq.) [hereinafter OBRA-93].
2. Balanced Budget Act of 1997, Pub. L. No. 111, Stat. 251 (1997), § 9233(a) (4) [hereinafter BBA-97].