Pathfinder Airborne ISR Systems

Modes & Frequency Bands of Operation

SAR Radar Models

Multi-mode and tailored systems to meet mission objectives

Sandia's world-class Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) systems offer an expansive set of radar modes ready to be packaged and utilized on both manned and unmanned platforms. Sandia's radar systems are custom designed and developed with the right frequencies, modes and methods for meeting the customer's specific mission needs.

Featured Radar Modes

Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR)

Moving Target Indicator (MTI)


  • Spotlight

  • SpotDwell

  • Circle

  • Stripmap

  • Arbitrary Stripmap

  • VideoSAR & VideoCCD

  • Velocity Independent Continuous Tracking Radar (VICTR)

  • Coherent Change Detection (CCD)

  • Normalized Coherence Processing (NCP)

  • Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (IFSAR)

  • Polarimetry

Featured Radar Characteristics

Radar Frequency Bands

Radar Techniques

  • Very High Frequency (VHF) / Ultra High Frequency (UHF)

    Sandia has designed and developed Very High Frequency (VHF)/Ultra High Frequency (UHF) Synthetic Aperture Radars (SARs) capable of operating over the band of 125MHz to 950MHz. Radars developed in this frequency have been used for a variety of foliage penetration and ground penetration experiments. (Image from a VHF/UHF experiment near Albuquerque, NM)

  • L-Band

    Sandia has utilized both L and S band for several airborne missions, tests, and experiments, including investigation of a wideband, fine resolution sensor potentially suitable for Foliage Penetration (FOPEN) missions. It is especially optimal for long-range operation (beyond several hundreds of km) with minimal impact from adverse weather. (Image from an L-Band test)

  • S-Band

    Sandia has significant, broad experience at S-band, including working with industry partners to produce and deploy the “Mini-RF” Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) system as one of the payloads on the NASA Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) mission. This radar has been used to image nearly the entire lunar surface, and played a key contributor role in the discovery and verification of ice deposits in the lunar polar regions. (Image is a lunar polar mosaic from the S-Band radar on-board the LRO)

  • X-Band

    X-band radars operate at a frequency between 8-12 GHz and are popular for airborne military applications. Sandia utilizes X-Band for several fielded programs including AntarcticaSAR and other research radars. (Image from the X-Band AntarcticaSAR of three crevasses in Antarctica undetectable to the human eye)

  • Ku-Band

    Ku-band radars operate at frequencies between 12-18 GHz. Ku-band is optimal for medium range operation (up to several tens of km depending on altitude), even in adverse weather. At these ranges, increased gain from a fixed antenna size outweighs losses from atmospheric effects. Many of Sandia's Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) systems operate in this frequency band, including MiniSAR and a number of MiniSAR-derivative systems. (Ku-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) image of China Lake Airport in California)

  • Ka-Band

    Ka-Band radars operate at frequencies between 27-40 Ghz. Sandia has fielded several Ka-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) systems and has active, ongoing radar R&D and data collection activities at this band. Ka-band is optimal for shorter range operation (up to perhaps 10 to 15 km depending on altitude), even in adverse weather. At these ranges, increased gain from a fixed antenna size outweighs losses from atmospheric effects. This allows equivalent performance from a smaller-sized antenna, more conducive for use with smaller platforms. (Real-time, fine-resolution, Ka-band image of a golf course clubhouse near Albuquerque, NM)