The introduction of photonics in microwave systems is setting new paradigms in radar architectures, providing new features potentially improving the surveillance effectiveness. In particular, photonics is enabling a new generation of the multiband radars able to manage multiple coherent radar signals at different frequencies simultaneously, with high and frequency-independent quality, enabling multispectral imaging for advanced surveillance systems. In fact, thanks to its high stability and huge bandwidth, photonics matches the urgent requirements of the performance and flexibility of the next-generation software-defined radar architectures, and it guarantees system compactness, thanks to the use of a single shared transceiver for multiband operations and to the potentials for photonic integration, which also promises reduced power consumption. In this paper, we present the first field trial, in a maritime scenario, of a fully coherent multiband radar enabled by the use of photonics. The paper reviews the basic concepts exploited for the photonic generation and the detection of the radar signals, and describes the extension to the multiband operation. We present details on the implementation and testing of a dual-band coherent radar system, discussing the potentials for a software-defined radio approach. Moreover, the results obtained after a simple digital data fusion are discussed, highlighting the capability of the coherent photonics-based multiband radars in exploiting the extended observation bandwidth for improving the system detection resolution with minimum computational costs.
Ghelfi, P., Laghezza, F., Scotti, F., Onori, D., & Bogoni, A. (2016). Photonics for radars operating on multiple coherent bands. Journal of Lightwave Technology, 34(2), 500-507. https://doi.org/10.1109/JLT.2015.2482390