Adaptive waveform design for improved detection of low-RCS targets in heavy sea clutter

Sandeep P. Sira, Douglas Cochran, Antonia Papandreou-Suppappola, Darryl Morrell, William Moran, Stephen D. Howard, Robert Calderbank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


The dynamic adaptation of waveforms for transmission by active radar has been facilitated by the availability of waveform-agile sensors. In this paper, we propose a method to employ waveform agility to improve the detection of low radar-cross section (RCS) targets on the ocean surface that present low signal-to-clutter ratios due to high sea states and low grazing angles. Employing the expectation-maximization algorithm to estimate the time-varying parameters for compound-Gaussian sea clutter, we develop a generalized likelihood ratio test (GLRT) detector and identify a range bin of interest. The clutter estimates are then used to dynamically design a phase-modulated waveform that minimizes the out-of-bin clutter contributions to this range bin. A simulation based on parameters derived from real sea clutter data demonstrates that our approach provides around 10 dB improvement in detection performance over a nonadaptive system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)56-66
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Journal on Selected Topics in Signal Processing
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 2007


  • Detection
  • Sea clutter
  • Waveform design
  • Waveform-agile sensing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Signal Processing
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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