paper// IEEE Transactions on Aerospace and Electronic Systems

Interferometer Design for Elevation Angle Estimation

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Radars that are developed for the purpose of monitoring aircraft landings in the terminal air traffic control system can be designed to exploit the relatively high signal-to-noise ratio that characterizes the power budgets calculated for such a link. An interferometer using a pair of low gain antennas can be used to obtain passive coverage over a targe azimuth and elevation sector. A large baseline can be used to obtain the desired elevation angle estimation accuracy. In this paper an optimal tradeoff between the width of the subarray aperture and the width of the interferometer baseline is performed that achieves a specified elevation angle estimation error while minimizing the overall height of the interferometer configuration. The algorithm searches through the class of antenna patterns that can be synthesized from so-called finite impulse response, linear phase digital filters. For the specific problem of designing an elevation sensor for monitoring landing aircraft on final approach, the elevation angle can be estimated with no more than 1-mrad rms error when the aircraft is within ± 60° azimuth, 2.5° to 40° elevation, using two 7-wavelength subarray antennas spaced 8 wave-lengths apart. The design of a separate sensor for resolving the interferometer ambiguities is formulated as a hypothesis testing problem and solved using statistical decision theory. A bound on the probability of an ambiguity error is derived that accounts for the effects of ground reflection multipath and receiver noise.