Radar signatures of drones equipped with liquid spray payloads

Samiur Rahman, Duncan A. Robertson, Mark Govoni

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

6 Citations (Scopus)


The widespread availability of cheap and robust commercial drones has increased the likelihood of these being used for malicious purposes. In some cases they may be equipped with threat payloads. This study reports on the distinctive radar signatures of drones spraying liquid, analogous to a drone delivering chemical weapons, for example. A commercially available crop spraying drone has been used as the basis for liquid droplet radar backscatter modelling and for experimental data acquisition. The spray nozzle droplet parameters were used to model the radar cross section (RCS) and the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) of the liquid droplets at X-, K- and W-bands, using the Rayleigh approximation. Additionally, experimental data have been obtained simultaneously with 24 GHz and 94 GHz radars. The processed results show that they are in very good agreement with the model. It is clearly demonstrated that at W-band (94 GHz), the liquid spray produces strong micro-Doppler signatures observed from the range-Doppler plots whereas no such detection was possible at K-band (24 GHz). The experimental results validate the hypothesis that millimeter-wave radar offers superior sensitivity than lower frequency bands to reflections from liquid spray droplets of <<0.5 mm size. Hence, a millimeter-wave radar system can potentially be used for classifying a drone with a liquid spray payload.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2020 IEEE Radar Conference (RadarConf20)
Number of pages5
ISBN (Electronic)9781728189420
ISBN (Print)9781728189437
Publication statusPublished - 4 Dec 2020
Event2020 IEEE Radar Conference (RadarConf) - Florence, Italy
Duration: 21 Sept 202025 Sept 2020

Publication series

NameProceedings of the IEEE National Radar Conference
ISSN (Electronic)2375-5318


Conference2020 IEEE Radar Conference (RadarConf)
Abbreviated titleRadarConf
Internet address


  • Drone
  • Liquid Spray
  • Payload
  • Millimeter wave
  • FMCW radar


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