C4iSR: Air

As China claims terahertz radar advances, experts see potential, pitfalls

09 April 2019

In March, China renewed claims regarding its development of powerful new ‘terahertz’ radar technology for ground-based air defence. Although the claims could not be substantiated, some experts believe the technology is feasible, albeit more so for smaller force protection applications.

Terahertz radar employs sub-millimetre radio frequency (RF) transmissions. Covering a waveband of 300 GHz to three terahertz, these transmissions use wavelengths from 1 mm up to 100 micrometres (µm).

The narrowness of such wavebands enables targets to be depicted in extreme detail. However, this is at the cost of range. Generally, radar in the lower part of the radio spectrum – for example, those that transmit in the high frequency (HF) waveband of 3 MHz to 30 MHz – can detect targets at long ranges with large antennas but at the cost of target resolution.

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