Using the X-Band and Ka-Band Frequencies for Radar Applications (2024)

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Author Cadence PCB Solutions

Key Takeaways

Using the X-Band and Ka-Band Frequencies for Radar Applications (1)

In the electromagnetic spectrum, the X-band through the Ka-band is widely used due to its high throughput and compact antennas.

Frequency bands of a higher frequency are vital in communication systems, especially satellite, radar, and military systems. This is because of their cost-effectiveness, high-speed data transfer capabilities, and small antennas.

In the electromagnetic spectrum, the X-band through the Ka-band is widely used because of its high throughput and compact antennas. The X-band frequency (8-12 GHz) and Ka-band frequency (26-40 GHz) are separated by the Ku and K frequency bands.

In this article, we will explore the X-band and Ka-band frequencies in detail.

X-Band Frequency

X-band frequency ranges from 8 GHz to 12 GHz, with a wavelength extending from 2.5 cm to 3.8 cm. The X-band frequency belongs to super-high frequency (SHF) in the electromagnetic spectrum. The X-band is the optimal choice for supporting communication on land, sea, and sky.

Here are some of the advantageous features of the X-band frequency.

High Throughput

The X-band ranges from 8-12 GHz, permitting the frequency band to support voice, image, data, and high-definition videos.


In the harshest weather conditions, X-band frequency signals undergo less atmospheric attenuation and are extensively used in satellite communications. With X-band frequency, the communication link availability is about 99.9% under challenging weather conditions.

Small Antennas and Low CAPEX

Small antennas are used in X-band applications and offer high performance. Since the antenna is small, the associated equipment is also compact. The reduction in the size of the antenna and other equipment decreases the manufacturing, installation, and labor costs, thereby reducing the capital expenditure of X-band communication systems.

The orbital slots for X-bands are two times that of their counterparts, providing greater satellite spacing. The greater spacing between the satellites allows the use of small terminals. X-band frequency permits high power density transmissions with the smaller terminals. The X-band throughput efficiency can reach up to 2.5 times that of the Ku-band without needing spread-spectrum techniques.

The space segment utilized by X-band users is reduced due to the small antennas and associated ground equipment. The X-band bandwidth costs incurred by users are less than with C, Ku, and Ka bands. In conclusion, the costs of hardware and bandwidth are less for X-band frequency applications.

Applications of X-Band Frequencies

X-band frequencies are utilized for secure communications. The frequencies employed in naval, government, and defense applications are typically X-band frequencies. In the navy, the tracking of surface targets is done using X-band radars. For secure internet access for crew and other operations, X-band frequencies are often used in the military.

Ka-Band Frequency

Frequencies in the range of 27 GHz to 40 GHz are called Ka-band frequencies, and the wavelength is between 1.1 to 0.75 centimeters. High-speed data communication with wide coverage through multiple beams is the greatest advantage of using the Ka-band. Like X-band frequencies, the Ka-band also works well with smaller antennas and associated equipment.

Features of Ka-Band Frequencies

  • High data transfer rates for satellite communication.
  • Smaller antennas and associated equipment compared to other frequencies.
  • Small antennas reduce manufacturing, transportation, installation, and labor costs.
  • Larger bandwidth than the Ku band.
  • The communication capacity and system coverage of Ka-band satellite applications can be boosted using frequency re-use.
  • The average bandwidth cost per Mbps for a month comes to around only $250-$400.
  • The susceptibility to rain fading is greater than the X-band and can be mitigated using the flex adaptive code modulation technique.

Ka-Band Frequency Applications

The application of the Ka-band frequency is not limited to high-resolution, close-range targeting radars, space telescopes, wireless point-point microwave communication systems, commercial and military aircraft, vehicle speed detection systems, or satellite communications.

Let’s compare the X-band and Ka-band frequencies in radar applications.

X-Band through Ka-Band for Radar Applications

In radar applications, X-band and Ka-band frequencies are invariably used. However, there are a few differences in the characteristics of X-band and Ka-band frequencies, and based on that, the frequencies are chosen.

X-Band Frequency for Radar Applications

  • The X-band is weatherproof, and radar can be used under harsh weather conditions such as rain, snow, or ice.
  • X-band radars cover farther distances.
  • Compared to the Ka-band, the antenna size of X-band radars is large.
  • X-band radars are bulky and difficult to use.
  • There are false alerts on X-band radars.

Ka-Band Frequency for Radar Applications

  • There are five radar frequencies available in the Ka-band, from 33.4 to 36 GHz. The most common Ka-band radar frequencies are 33.8, 34.7, and 35.5 GHz.
  • There are fewer false alerts in Ka-band radars compared to X-band radars.
  • Due to the low likelihood of false alerts, Ka-band radars are used in police and law enforcement radars.
  • Ka-band radar antennas and equipment are smaller in size.

Ka-band frequency is preferable for secure and reliable alerts from radar, though the X-band can also be used. Cadence’s suite of PCB design and analysis tools can help you develop X-band as well as Ka-band applications such as radar systems, military, and satellite communication systems.

Leading electronics providers rely on Cadence products to optimize power, space, and energy needs for a wide variety of market applications. If you’re looking to learn more about our innovative solutions, talk to our team of experts or subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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Using the X-Band and Ka-Band Frequencies for Radar Applications (2024)


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