2019 IEEE International Symposium on Phased Array Systems and Technology

October 15 – 18, 2019, Waltham, MA USA

Tutorial: Adaptive Beamforming for Radar and Phased Arrays: Principles and Recent Advances

October 18, 2019 8 a.m. – 12 noon


Dr. Alfonso Farina, Selex, ret.
Consultant to Leonardo S.p.A. “Electronics Division”, Rome, Italy.

Abstract: Beamforming permits steering an antenna array in a way to obtain a certain antenna gain in a given direction while having suitable attenuation in others. Such spatial filtering, which combines the energy over the antenna aperture, is widely used in a variety of e.m. applications including phased arrays radars. In fact, the capability to maximize the signal of interest while minimizing possible interferences that could be present in operational environments is decisive for present and future active array antenna radars.

With the advent of digitally scanned array antennas, radar systems are equipped with hundreds of receiving channels each with a dedicated high speed Analogue to Digital Converter (ADC). Signal samples are captured in the proximity of the antenna and the digital signal processing is carried out afterwards to find the optimum weights for every receiving channel, thus accomplishing adaptive digital beamforming. Therefore, today array antennas can adjust their characteristics in response to environmental changes such as direction of arrival (DOA), frequency, interference rejection, polarization and power level. This self-adjusting capability makes array antenna operations more reliable and guarantees improved reception and resilience against possible interference signals that may be present in the environment.

The tutorial is organized into four parts. The first introduces the fundamental principles of beamforming and traces its history from analog to fully digital. The second describes the mathematical tools to carry out beamforming, for example focusing on linear/planar/circular/cylindrical/conformal arrays, performance
parameters, pattern types, transmission and reception adaptivity, SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar), RF (Radio Frequency) tomography. The third presents significant case studies from open literature, illustrating the practical application of adaptive beamforming techniques to real-world systems. The fourth highlights some promising and evolving technologies (e.g., quantum radars and cognitive radars) that are paving the way to the future for adaptive digital beamforming. Comprehensive reference list will be provided.


Dr. Alfonso FARINA, LFIEEE, FIET, FREng, FEURASIP. Electronic Engineering Degree, Rome University, 1973.  1974: joined Selenia, then Selex ES. Director of Engineering of Large Business Systems Division. 2012: Senior VP & Company CTO, reporting directly to President. Retired in October 2014. 1979 – 1985: professor of “Radar Techniques”, University of Naples. Author of 800 peer-reviewed technical publications and of books and monographs (published worldwide), some of them also translated into Russian and Chinese. Awards: (2004) Leader of the team that won the First Prize of the first edition of the Finmeccanica Award for Innovation Technology; (2005) International Fellow of Royal Academy of Engineering, U.K., fellowship was presented to him by HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh; (2010) IEEE Dennis J. Picard Medal for Radar Technologies and Applications for “Continuous, Innovative, Theoretical, and Practical Contributions to Radar Systems and
Adaptive Signal Processing Techniques”; (2012) Oscar Masi award for the AULOS® “green” radar by the Italian Industrial Research Association (AIRI); (2014) IET Achievement Medal. (2015) Visiting Professor at University College London (UCL), Dept. EEE, Distinguished Lecturer (DL) of IEEE AESS.  (2017) IEEE SPS Industrial Leader Award. (2017) Chair of Italy Section Chapter, IEEE AESS-10. (Jan 2018-
Dec2019) IEEE Signal Processing Society 2018, Distinguished Industry Lecturer. (Jan 2019-Dec 2021) Member of IEEE AESS BoG. (2018): Associate Editor, IEEE Signal Processing Magazine. (2018-2019): Visiting professor at Cranfield University, UK. Consultant to Leonardo S.p.A. “Electronics Division”, Rome, Italy.