BAE Systems, Utah State, to develop algorithms that recognize moving targets in synthetic aperture radar

May 20, 2021
MTR is part of DARPA Mosaic Warfare vision to create rapidly reconfigurable military forces that are fast, unpredictable, flexible, and adaptable.

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB, Ohio – U.S. military researchers are asking two more signal-processing companies to develop algorithms and collection techniques to enable synthetic aperture radar (SAR) sensors to detect, geolocate, and image moving targets on the ground.

Officials of the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, on Tuesday announced a $5.2 million contract to the BAE Systems Electronic Systems segment in San Diego and a $4.1 million contract to the Utah State University Space Dynamics Laboratory in Logan, Utah, for the Moving Target Recognition (MTR) project.

MTR revolves around developing algorithms that recognize slow-moving military vehicle targets with synthetic aperture radar (SAR) signatures that are superimposed on clutter. The Air Force awarded the contract on behalf of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, Va.

Related: Detection and imaging of moving ground targets with synthetic aperture radar (SAR) is aim of MTR project

BAE Systems and Utah State join the KBR Inc. Centauri segment in Chantilly, Va., on the MTR program. KBR won an $11.1 million MTR contract in April.

MTR will include airborne data collection experiments to test and evaluate algorithms to detect moving ground targets. The MTR contractors will be responsible for the airborne radar sensors and flight services, while DARPA will handle designing experiments that involve moving ground vehicles, instrumented to provide ground truth.

If the project succeeds at moving target detection, geolocation, and imaging, MTR will start developing ATR algorithms for moving target images.

Related: SAR imaging technology to match infrared pursued by Raytheon, Nuvotronics, BAE Systems

The MTR program is part of the DARPA Mosaic Warfare vision, which seeks to create rapidly reconfigurable military forces that are fast, unpredictable, flexible, and adaptable -- more like the pieces in a mosaic piece of art, rather than a collection of rigidly designed pieces of a puzzle.

The MTR program has two phases: a two-year effort that focuses on locating moving targets, as well as detection and imaging; and automatic target recognition (ATR) of the moving target images.

For more information contact BAE Systems Electronic Systems online at, the Utah State Space Dynamics Laboratory at, KBR Centauri online at, the Air Force Research Laboratory at,, or DARPA at

About the Author

John Keller | Editor-in-Chief

John Keller is the Editor-in-Chief, Military & Aerospace Electronics Magazine--provides extensive coverage and analysis of enabling electronics and optoelectronic technologies in military, space and commercial aviation applications. John has been a member of the Military & Aerospace Electronics staff since 1989 and chief editor since 1995.

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