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Radar Frequency Bands

Radar systems were first developed during and after World War II. Before, the radar systems operated within a specified frequency bands, but as technology advances, the need for standardization came into the pciture. This led to the creation of 2 primary classification of the frequency bands of radar. They are, 

  • Traditional Frequency Band 
  • NATO classification Band

The Traditional Bands, still used in literature, originated during World War II and it is used in maintaining secrecy regarding the frequency usage. In contrast, the NATO classified bands are designed, so that the modern technological advancements and measurements can be measured. This newer system is designed with logarithmic distributions and adaptability to higher frequencies. This makes it suitable for electronic systems where radar plays an important role. 

Frequency Bands

Frequency BandFrequency RangeWavelength RangeCommon Applications
HF3 – 30 MHz10 – 100 mOver-the-Horizon Radar
VHF30 – 300 MHz1 – 10 mAir Traffic Control, Weather Radar
UHF300 MHz – 1 GHz0.1 – 1 mGround Penetrating Radar, Mobile Communication
L1 – 2 GHz0.15 – 0.3 mAircraft Surveillance, Short-Range Weather Radar
S2 – 4 GHz7.5 – 15 cmAir Traffic Control, Surface Movement Radar
C4 – 8 GHz3.75 – 7.5 cmSatellite Communication, Precision Scattering
X8 – 12 GHz2.5 – 3.75 cmMilitary Surveillance, Vehicle Speed Measurement
Ku12 – 18 GHz1.67 – 2.5 cmSatellite Communication, Radar Altimetry
K18 – 27 GHz1.11 – 1.67 cmRadio Astronomy, Automotive Radar
Ka27 – 40 GHz7.5 – 11.1 mmSatellite Communication, Precipitation Monitoring
V40 – 75 GHz4 – 7.5 mmAutomotive Radar, Security Screening
W75 – 110 GHz2.7 – 4 mmImaging, Spectroscopy
mm110 – 300 GHz1 – 2.7 mmTerahertz Imaging, Material Characterization
Radar Frequency Bands

Understanding Radar Frequency Ranges

The ElectroMagnetic Spectrum consists of a wide range of frequencies. The frequencies are split into multiple bands based on their physical properties and technical usages. This division of the frequency in the radar system is to make sure that the radar systems can be provided in diverse applications, from long-range surveillance to weather monitoring and such. 

Radar Frequency Bands

Frequency Bands

High Frequency ( HF )

The High Frequency ( HF ) band ranges from 3 MHz to 30 MHz. This holds a unique place in the radar system. This band consists of relatively low frequencies, which serves a special purpose in Over-The-Horizon-Radar ( OTHR ) systems. With wavelengths from 1- to 100 meters, this band has the ability to propagate to long distances, which makes it suitable in military surveillance systems. 

Very High Frequency ( VHF ) and Ultra High Frequency ( UHF ):

The VHF and UHF bands cover frequencies from 50 MHz to 1 GHz. These bands are similar to that of the long range surveillance, making them useful  in varieties of defense and security applications. The capability to detect distance objects even in difficult weather conditions are the significance of the VHF and UHF frequencies. 

L-Band and S-Band:

The L-Band and the S-Band consist of frequencies ranging from 1 GHz to 4 GHz. The L Band which is 1-2 GHz is mostly used in radar systems for long range surveillance and traffic control systems. This band is also used in En-Route Radars ( ERAR ) and Air Route Surveillance Radar ( ARSR ) that are used in air traffic control. Whereas the S-band which operates in 2 GHz to 4 GHz is used in moderate-range surveillance, terminal traffic control and long range weather monitoring systems. 

C-Band and X-Band:

The C-Band and X-Band together range from 4 GHz to 12 GHz frequency ranges. The C-Band which is 4 GHz to 8 GHz is widely used in  long range tracking and airborne weather applications. The X-band which is 8 GHz to 12 GHz is suitable for short range tracking, missile guidance, marine radar and airborne intercept systems. 

K u -Band, K-Band, and K a -Band:

These bands ranging from 12 GHz to 40 GHz are highly capable in, high resolution mapping, satellite altimetry and very high resolution mapping applications. The Ku bands applications are also in maritime navigation radar systems, while K and Ka bands are used in airport surveillance and high-precision applications. 

mm-Wave Band:

At 40-100+ GHz, the mm-wave band is still in the realm of experimentation. Even in this range, V -Band which is 40-75GHz is used in automotive radar systems and W-Band which is 75 to 110 GHz is used for spectroscopy and imaging. The ranges above these are still holding high potential and need to be studied further. 


Radar Frequency bands have provided a standardization for usage of these bands of electromagnetic waves based on their physical properties and their applications. The above are just some of the applications whereas stating all the applications cannot be humanly possible. 

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