CAC Awarded Air Force Contract for Next-Generation Over-the-Horizon Radar Development

Over-the-horizon radar (OTHR) systems have been critical to providing comprehensive wide-area surveillance for homeland defense for decades. As defense and military systems evolve, however, the need to improve existing OTHR capabilities grows in importance. The Center for Advanced Communications has received a two-year, $267,000 contract from the United States Air Force to develop “next generation” OTHR (NGOTHR) technology to mitigate radar clutter and to improve target geo-location accuracy.

“At the CAC, we’re very proud of our new relationship with the Air Force Research Lab at Wright Patterson in Ohio,” says Dr. Yimin Zhang, Director of the CAC’s Wireless and Communications and Positioning Laboratory and principal investigator for the contract. “We’re pleased to be selected for this collaboration, which will help address some important current OTHR challenges that will enable U.S. tactical forces to protect the United States’ shores and borders more effectively.” Dr. Moeness Amin, Director of the CAC, and Dr. Fauzia Ahmad, Director of the CAC’s Radar Imaging Lab, are co-PIs on the project.

Christina Rosati ChE ’11 has received the annual Coyne Family Scholarship, given by Stephanie Hopper ME ’90 in honor of her father, John W. Coyne CE ’46, to the College of Engineering. This merit-based scholarship is awarded to an engineering student who demonstrates both excellent academic achievements and leadership qualities.  Dr. Randy Weinstein, Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering, nominated Rosati because she is at the top of her class, shows an interest in learning material beyond what is required for the assignment or exam, and remains a leader among her peers and fellow engineers.  “It is truly an honor to have received this award. The money that this scholarship provides will also be a great help to me and my family,” says Rosati.  Hopper, now the Director of Labs for the College of Engineering at Florida Institute of Technology, chose engineering at Villanova because she wanted a degree that would assist her in finding a lifelong career and allow her to practice anywhere in the world. She established the Coyne Family Scholarship because she felt fortunate to graduate without loans, and she wanted to help future Villanova engineers offset the cost of higher education.  Growing up, Rosati always loved math and science and found that she could combine these skills with a knack for problem-solving as a chemical engineer at Villanova. Her research interests involve the production of alternative energy, with a focus on producing hydrogen from waste glycerol through the biodiesel process.  “It's an incredibly interesting project, and I love it because it is a completely sustainable process. Ninety-five percent of hydrogen produced right now is from fossil fuels, making hydrogen an unsustainable fuel source. If this research is successful, it could create a sustainable, green fuel source that could have a major impact on the future of energy,” says Rosati.  In addition to her studies, Rosati is also the president of the Society of Women Engineers, the chapter vice president of Engineers Without Borders, a member of Tau Beta Pi, a committee chair for the Engineering Student Council, a campus tour guide for the Blue Key Society, a member of AIChE, a vocalist for the Pastoral Musicians, and a three-time participant in Campus Ministry's Habitat for Humanity Service Break Trips. She has also co-led an Engineers Without Borders (EWB) trip to Cheyenne, Wyoming and did work with EWB in Panama over Fall Break.  After graduation, Rosati hopes to enter the work force to start applying her engineering knowledge in the nuclear power industry.

OTHR systems make use of the reflective and refractive nature of high-frequency (HF) radiowave propagation through the ionosphere to perform long-range surveillance well beyond the limit of horizon of conventional line-of-sight radars. While OTHR technology has been very effective in allowing persistent air and maritime surveillance, both inland and for thousands of miles off the U.S. coastline, there have been challenges associated with spread-Doppler clutter, which degrades system performance. In addition, accuracy in geo-locating the target, especially altitude, has been lacking. CAC researchers will address each challenge as part of the contract.

To improve the quality of signal returns, CAC researchers will leverage the advances in multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) radar technology. MIMO systems, which use multiple antennas to simultaneously transmit diverse waveforms and utilize multiple antennas to receive the reflected signals, possess significant potential for clutter mitigation, resolution enhancement, and interference and jamming suppression. The team will focus on joint sparse array and waveform design techniques to enhance maneuvering target detection and tracking in the presence of strong clutter and multipath signal propagation.

CAC researchers will also develop novel time-frequency analysis techniques to improve position estimation of very distant maneuvering targets of hundreds and thousands of miles away, and in particular, their altitude information. Altitude can be indirectly provided from micro-multipath returns due to ground/sea reflections local to the target. New algorithms of high-resolution time-frequency signal representations of the micro-multipath returns will permit fast and robust altitude tracking.