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An Algebra- and Trigonometry-based Emitter Location Technique for Radar Warning Receivers

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

STEM Education Tied to Aerospace Engineering

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Gene L. Harding , PE Purdue University (Statewide Technology)

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GENE L. HARDING is an associate professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology at Purdue University, where he has taught for 13 years. He has three years of industrial experience with Agilent Technologies, 28 years of combined active and reserve service in the United States Air Force, holds an MSEE from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, and is a licensed professional engineer.

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This paper explores a radio frequency (RF) emitter location technique for a notional fighter aircraft. The goal is to have the students apply concepts, such as antenna directionality and signal propagation characteristics, to find an emitter’s location using only algebra, trigonometry, and a straightforward graph of antenna gain—no higher-level mathematics. In the scenario the fighter aircraft carries a radar warning receiver (RWR) that uses a four-element antenna array. The antennas are arranged in 90° azimuthal increments around the perimeter of the aircraft, and each antenna has a gain response that falls off logarithmically as the receive angle shifts away from boresight.

The author, a retired officer from the U.S. Air Force, teaches this technique in an Electrical Engineering Technology course titled Military RF Electronic Applications. Such techniques are part of what the military calls electronic warfare (EW): using the electromagnetic spectrum for our advantage, preserving its use for friendly forces, and preventing the enemy from doing the same.

This paper begins with a brief description of electronic warfare and the course in which this technique is taught, then the physical configuration of the antenna array on the notional fighter aircraft. Finally, there is a detailed explanation of how an emitter’s location can be calculated from the relative signal powers received by the RWR antennas.

Harding, G. L. (2016, June), An Algebra- and Trigonometry-based Emitter Location Technique for Radar Warning Receivers Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26559

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