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Description of the radar set, tactical-technical characteristics

Figure 1: Vehicle Movement Area Transponder (VMAT) antenna mounted top of a flashing beacon.

Figure 1: Vehicle Movement Area Transponder (VMAT) antenna mounted top of a flashing beacon.

Typical Specifications of ASDE-X SMRs
frequency: X-band[2] Ku-band
pulse repetition time (PRT):
pulse repetition frequency (PRF): 4 kHz8 kHz
pulsewidth (τ): 1 and 100 µs40 ns
receiving time:
dead time:
peak power: 60 W3 kW
average power:
instrumented range:
range resolution:
beamwidth: 0.4°0.25°
hits per scan:
antenna rotation: 60 min⁻¹


The name ASDE-X is ambiguous because it has two different meanings. Both meanings refer to ASDE to as Airport Surface Detection Equipment. But one meaning relates to the program ASDE Model X, the other meaning relates to ASDE using a Surface Movement Radar (SMR) in the frequency band X. It is this typical American ambiguity in naming (using the “X” for a variety), especially because the used Vehicle Movement Area Transponders (VMAT) predominantly work with the SSR mode X (spelling: “Mode Ten”).

ASDE-X (Program)

The Airport Surface Detection Equipment - Model X (ASDE-X) Program is a U.S. Federal Aviation Administration endeavor to install the ASDE-X airport surface surveillance system at 35 airports in the United States.

The ASDE-X system provides multi-sensor airport surface surveillance with identification and conflict alerting to air traffic controllers. It contains

By fusing the data from these sources, ASDE-X is able to determine the position and identification of aircraft and transponder-equipped vehicles on the airport movement area, as well as aircraft flying within five miles of the airport.

The first use ASDE-X was at General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in October 2003.[1]

ASDE-X (Radar)

ASDE-X is sometimes associated with Raytheon’s low cost Surface Movement Radar ASDE (sometimes also referred to ASDE-2, because used in Phase II of the ASDE-X program). But it can be any X-band or even Ku-band radar.

Sources and Notes:

  1. FAA fact-sheet
  2. In the USA these SMRs operate in the frequency band 9.0 to 9.2 GHz. In Europe these radars operate in the band 9.3 to 9.5 GHz.