I am coming across this term "instrumentation radar" without exactly defining it but with adjectives like high performance, mono pulse etc. But what exactly is an instrumentation radar?


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An instrument is a gadget for measuring something. So an instrumentation radar is a radar for measuring something. Perhaps it is not the most helpful name.

Here is a document from 1998 that maps out the future of instrumentation radar for use in places like military missile ranges.

Instrumentation radar has played a very significant role in testing and training for more than 50 years. Along with optics, it has been a major supplier of time-space-position-information (TSPI). With the advent of the Global Positioning System (GPS), the need for instrumentation radar for TSPI has been called into question. Is radar still needed? Or can it be replaced by GPS?


It is also needed for a variety of specialized measurements, including radar cross section (i.e., stealthiness), characterization of debris, and assessment of damage at intercept.

  • $\begingroup$ I think that we need to consider the term in comparison to a "navigation radar". In the latter case you mostly care about where you are relative to other objects / obstacles; but it is possible to use (stationary) radar specifically to measure distance, direction, and even sub-surface composition. I suspect that is where the distinction comes in. I agree with you it's not the most helpful term. $\endgroup$ – Floris Jul 19 '16 at 12:54
  • $\begingroup$ @Floris: Thanks for the clarification. I know what is instrumentation but I was not able to relate it to radar as the very radar begins with the distance measurement concept and I was trying to get the exact way it is used in literature. Now I got it. It might have been loosely defined/used. $\endgroup$ – Seetha Rama Raju Sanapala Jul 19 '16 at 13:09

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