Can radar detect flying animal?

  • Thread starter Chitose
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  • #1
Chitose
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Hello, Chitose wonder chick here.

It's been a while since last time I post my question here.

right now I'm working on my new novel and need little help about radar.

.....................................................

Can radar that scan through sky detect flying animal? (in my case is 4 meter dragon)

I wonder, If it can detect animal, wouldn't soldier or air control tower be headache because of bird?

or it can detect only on specific size? distance?

.......................................................
**English is not my native language, forgive me If I'm wrong in spelling or grammar.**
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
russ_watters
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Yes, some military radar can detect large birds and yes, more sophisticated radars have computers that filter-out such things so that they don't give their operators headaches. What size? Not sure, but it of course depends on the radar.

Civilian ATC radars are nowhere near powerful enough to detect birds. For the most part, they don't even really detect planes - planes just transmit an ID signal.
 
  • #3
AlephZero
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
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The first WWII radar systems sometimes picked up signals from unknown objects at high altitude. The objects were jokingly referred to as "angels", until it was discovered they were flocks of migrating birds. Species like duck and geese often fly at up to 20,000ft on long sea crossings to get the most benefit of the available wind.

There are now radars designed specifically to track bird migration. Many small birds fly with a short burst of wing flapping follwed by a glide, and that flight pattern can be picked up by radar and used to identify the species without any visual observation of the birds (for example at night).
 
  • #4
Antiphon
1,681
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An adult dragon weighing 5 tons and flying toward the radar would have a radar cross-section of around 1 square meter. A military radar could detect and track the dragon from a distance of several hundred miles.
 
  • #5
NobodySpecial
379
3
An adult dragon weighing 5 tons and flying toward the radar would have a radar cross-section of around 1 square meter.
An african or european dragon?

And how many coconuts could it carry?
 
  • #6
Borek
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One of the PF regulars told us on many occasions about birds he has seen on radar screens all over Europe.
 
  • #7
Chitose
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Thanks,
In my novel plot, Dragon are avoided to fly over major city because of radar and SAM.

now that i'm thinking about it, can missile lock on living target?

I know that many type of homing missile, but if you want to shoot flying dragon down, which type of homing is suitable? (assume that dragon skin can hide body temperature as around environment).
 
  • #8
Borek
Mentor
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In novel? With dragons? Visual or olfactory.
 
  • #9
NobodySpecial
379
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You have to figure that fire breathing dragons are a good target for heat seeking missiles.
Of course the main problem with using dragons in any tactical role is maintaining the traditional necessary qualifications of the ground handling crew
 
  • #10
RocketSci5KN
162
4
Assuming your dragons are warm blooded, they would not be able to shield their body heat from infrared (IR) sensors, optimized of course for the blackbody radiation given off by approximately 100F creatures. Radar or IR sensors would be good ways to target them. Since they also fly subsonically, they should be easy to hit ;-> Fire breathing while in flight should not be needed to track them. Smart dragons would wait for cloudy weather and fly within those clouds....
 
  • #11
RocketSci5KN
162
4
Assuming your dragons are warm blooded, they would not be able to shield their body heat from infrared (IR) sensors, optimized of course for the blackbody radiation given off by approximately 100F creatures. Radar or IR sensors would be good ways to target them. Since they also fly subsonically, they should be easy to hit ;-> Fire breathing while in flight should not be needed to track them. Smart dragons would wait for cloudy weather and fly within those clouds....

Of course, this won't help against radar..
 
  • #12
Chitose
73
0
Thanks again for serious answer.

I know my novel is fantasy, but I want to put more logical and reality as much as it can be.

In this case, my dragon have avoid major cities and military zone no matter what huh...
right now I'm planing to make scene 4 meter Dragon vs Apache, I might have some more silly question. :)
 
  • #13
stooch
21
1
Thanks again for serious answer.

I know my novel is fantasy, but I want to put more logical and reality as much as it can be.

In this case, my dragon have avoid major cities and military zone no matter what huh...
right now I'm planing to make scene 4 meter Dragon vs Apache, I might have some more silly question. :)

dragon would die before realizing that someone is shooting at it. take a look at some iraq videos. The supersonic 30mm explosive shells will rip through its 4 meter body from beyond visual range, one round would be enough to tear it in half. It wouldnt be much of a battle. and wouldnt even require radar. If i was an apache pilot i would take great pleasure in hunting dragons, probably fly up to about 300 meters and try to kill it with a single round. missiles would be a waste of tax payer dollars.

as for the heat seeking comment, im assuming that a dragon would generate its fire through a binary compound using a catalyst of some sort. Also its probably a reptilian so id imagine that it would be at ambient temperature and is primarily a glider with pathetic evasive capabilites (it wouldnt have a chance for evasive maneuvers anyway, the round would tear into its flesh before it ever hears a muzzle report).

a dragons best chance would not be to fly through the clouds, it would have to hug the terrain and use things like canyons to fly under the radar. Considering the overall wing surface area to weight ratio of most fictional dragons, its ability to fly at high altitudes would be pretty limited, as the denser, low altitude air would be a better fit for its poorly constructed wings. I have never seen an illustration of any dragon that could feasibly even take off under its own power, it would have to jump off a cliff to stay aloft and even then i doubt it could generate a positive glide slope.

considering that most cities do not employ optical tracking gun mounts, it could fly undetected. Of course this would require the dragon to fully understand military doctorine. which implies that it either has inside intel or it personally watched many of its siblings die a horrible death. Either way, for a dragon to understand military doctorine, it would have to speak better english than even yourself. Which eliminates the chance for evolutionary adaptation since pretty much 100% of dragons would be taken out.

are you chinese?
 
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  • #14
NobodySpecial
379
3
If i was an apache pilot i would take great pleasure in hunting dragons, probably fly up to about 300 meters and try to kill it with a single round.
It would have to be a million to one shot - that's the only way to guarantee hitting a dragon's vulnerable spot.
 
  • #15
stooch
21
1
It would have to be a million to one shot - that's the only way to guarantee hitting a dragon's vulnerable spot.

I think that your probability is way off. Considering how effectively a typical apache takes out human sized targets at more than a mile away.

I bet you that at 300meters an apache, firing a 30mm shell will have 30% to 50% chance hitting a 4 meter dragon. Considering the tank piercing round or even its HE variant and the light weight construction of a dragon (heavily armored dragons wouldnt be able to generate enough lift), a single round would kill a dragon. Either by blowing off a limb, tearing through its heart, or by crippling it so that it impacts the ground, leaving a blood filled crater.

Say you blow off a dragons leg, even if it manages to stay aloft, it would probably exsanguinate in about 2 minutes and hit the ground unconcious. Since each pump of its wings would result in a liter of blood gushing out of its stump.

im sorry to say, but the fantasy novel action sequence would be about 1 paragraph long.
 
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  • #16
stooch
21
1
now to think of it.. the best (cheapest) way to fight a dragon is to get one of those high powered laser pointers and blind the dragon. preferably as its clearing obstacles, then watch with glee as a powerline or a radio tower rips off its wing and it spirals down to its death. I bet that its gall bladder would fetch a hefty price on the black market as an aphrodesiac, and its scaled hide would make an excellent purse or a pair of boots.
 
  • #17
NobodySpecial
379
3
Considering the tank piercing round or even its HE variant and the light weight construction of a dragon
Your standard Smaug-class middle earth dragon has a hide made of gold encrusted with diamonds and sapphires to make them invulnerable except for a single vulnerable spot.

In the Discworld, the only way to guarantee hitting a dragons vulnerable spot is a million to one shot. which is why it's necessary for the Apache pilot to stand on one leg with his trousers rolled up and be blind folded, simply to increase the odds and therefore guarantee a shot.
 
  • #18
stooch
21
1
Your standard Smaug-class middle earth dragon has a hide made of gold encrusted with diamonds and sapphires to make them invulnerable except for a single vulnerable spot.

In the Discworld, the only way to guarantee hitting a dragons vulnerable spot is a million to one shot. which is why it's necessary for the Apache pilot to stand on one leg with his trousers rolled up and be blind folded, simply to increase the odds and therefore guarantee a shot.

Consider that a depleted uranium or tungsten 30mm round would have a penetrating capability of ~50mm of rolled homogenous steel armor at 1000 meters and up to 60 degrees of deflection angle.

Gold is an extremely soft metal, much softer than steel and will offer almost no resistance to a 30mm round especially at 300m... Even if you encrust it with diamonds and sapphires. Armoring of that type is only as strong as the binding agent, with gold acting as the binder - the gems will be simply blown inwards and act as shrapnel that will perforate its internal organs. Also, the skin is a complex organ that facilitates heat transfer and various biological functions... it would be impossible for a dragon to have skin made out of such materials.

this is not even taking into account that a gold skin would have to be segmented in order to facilitate movement (ruining its aerodynamics ) and the fact that the dense precious metal will guarantee that the dragon will not be able to fly. and even if a gold skinned dragon did manage to fly, a 4 meter specimen will have a very thin gold and gem skin, relative to the dragon - to allow for internal organs and muscles, i would imagine something around 1-2mm thick.

The precious material will simply make it more profitable to take the dragon down and then collect the material out of the mass of internal organs in the impact crater. This would pretty much guarantee that dragons will be extinct in a modern world and would make absolutely no sense from an evolutionary standpoint.

I bet that even a simple assault rifle would tear a dragon of that size up. just spray it with an ak47 or an m16.

whoever thought up of a gold armor ecnrusted with gems is an idiot. it would make more sense to sell the armor and hire more soldiers.
 
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  • #19
Dr Lots-o'watts
643
0
Consider that a depleted uranium or tungsten 30mm round would have a penetrating capability of ~50mm of rolled homogenous steel armor at 1000 meters and up to 60 degrees of deflection angle.

Gold is an extremely soft metal, much softer than steel and will offer almost no resistance to a 30mm round especially at 300m... Even if you encrust it with diamonds and sapphires. Armoring of that type is only as strong as the binding agent, with gold acting as the binder - the gems will be simply blown inwards and act as shrapnel that will perforate its internal organs. Also, the skin is a complex organ that facilitates heat transfer and various biological functions... it would be impossible for a dragon to have skin made out of such materials.

this is not even taking into account that a gold skin would have to be segmented in order to facilitate movement (ruining its aerodynamics ) and the fact that the dense precious metal will guarantee that the dragon will not be able to fly. and even if a gold skinned dragon did manage to fly, a 4 meter specimen will have a very thin gold and gem skin, relative to the dragon - to allow for internal organs and muscles, i would imagine something around 1-2mm thick.

The precious material will simply make it more profitable to take the dragon down and then collect the material out of the mass of internal organs in the impact crater. This would pretty much guarantee that dragons will be extinct in a modern world and would make absolutely no sense from an evolutionary standpoint.

I bet that even a simple assault rifle would tear a dragon of that size up. just spray it with an ak47 or an m16.

whoever thought up of a gold armor ecnrusted with gems is an idiot. it would make more sense to sell the armor and hire more soldiers.

Well maybe it's a magical dragon.
 
  • #20
stooch
21
1
give me a minute while I enchant my 30mm cannon.
 
  • #21
RocketSci5KN
162
4
Have your dragon take a swim in a muddy pool of radar absorbing ferrite before flying
in areas with radar: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radar-absorbent_material
The dragon must avoid being targeted in the first place... It'll need to stay streamlined
as well to reflect the radar in random directions... (avoid wing flapping).
 
  • #22
Chitose
73
0
wow.... I got so many imagine about my dragon vs apache now, Thank

It seem that many have believe that human technology can outclass dragon.

In my novel, my dragon have human with military knowledge give it back up about radar missile and how powerful human weapon these day is.

well, my dragon won't stay still to be easy target, It can fly as fast as Apache itself (or faster when condition is met) and with wing of animal, it will completely outclass Apache in terms of maneuverability and evasion.

so I don't think explosive round will be any useful, the faraway both each other is The longer bullet flight path, with speed of living animal, evading bullet would be easy (make evading move before it can fire). If apache come too close, it would be burn down by explosive flame shot.

(...haven't you seen godzilla (usa) evading missile 555)

and dragon have high sensation, It will easily herd sound of Apache rotor at least 2 - 3 kilometer and it can smell fuel burn from engine too.


and I wonder, If missile are miss target by passing it, can missile do U-turn move to track down target??

also, about auto aiming device by computer, can it compute delay aim with zigzag target?
..............................................

Am I Chinese? no, I'm Thailand.
 
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  • #23
Borek
Mentor
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3,660
There is a problem with your dragon. There is a limit on the size of the flying animal - especially if it is going to fly actively, not just gliding. Largest living flying birds are around 20 kg, largest known was about 70 kg, but it was mostly gliding and it is not clear if it was able to start from the flat ground; for sure its agility in the air was low. So your dragon is not large enough to be seriously dangerous for Apache.
 
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  • #24
JaredJames
2,745
22
Chitose, given it's fiction you can do what you like.

So far, you seem to have 'evolved' your dragon so that it really is a match for the technology.

However, I'd point out that everyone seems to have been focussing on weapons which simply target the animal fairly accurately. There really is no need. I recommend you look up the weapons that defend the royal naval fleets from missile attack. My favourite, the phalanx (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phalanx_CIWS) basically puts a wall of bullets in front of incoming objects. It's hard to hit a fast moving target accurately, especially in the short time periods they have to react. So it's easier to saturate the air.

Now, I know that particular weapon isn't of much use if there was an enemy such as the dragons in your story, which truly was that powerful and could easily evade missiles, cannons and guns, it would make more sense to 'carpet bomb' the area of the sky it is spotted in. That way, you can either use that technique to kill/crash it or you can force it where you need it to go by blocking all but one path - allowing you to guide it towards your 'big guns'.

I believe the current tech for ship defence is a missile system which works on this principle, but I can't remember the name of it.
 
  • #25
angryaardvark
1
0
actually with a tungsten or DU round the target would be better off unarmored. The round is so hard and has so much kinetic energy that it becomes a partial molten slag on impact. A 3/4 inch armor plate was welded to the front of an apc and a single 20mm du round was fired at it. It penetrated both the natural armor and the plate and the rehardened slag part destroyed 4 cardboard dummies inside. CIWS also has a CAC. continuous aim calibration that enables it to chase a target. it tracks the round for 9 ms then tracks the target for 15. if the is no intersect vector it will change it's aim. as it rotates at 90 degrees per second and elevates at 60 degrees per second it would be impossible to evade. they were testing a scaling down to a coating of a radar deflecting material out there is a slight polarized rubber with copper layers in it. The theory is that as the rf passes the rubber and is deflected back out of phase it is adsorbed by the copper layer and dissipated as heat. We did a trial where we clued 10 inch squares all over a couple of frigates, we covered hull wires, antenna, railings, door handles.... and then tested the for radar radar return. the cross section of a frigate was about that of a 10 foot sailboat.high resolution surface search could detect the wake from the boat at anything over 8 knots. Not sure about aircraft, I think they use a similar principle in the composit coatings though.
 
  • #26
stooch
21
1
either way the dragon is screwed.
 
  • #27
JaredJames
2,745
22
either way the dragon is screwed.

Agreed.

Unless it has the stealth capabilities of an F22, it really doesn't stand a chance.
 
  • #28
stooch
21
1
hi, you asked real advice because you want to write a realistic novel.

Im sorry to say but your novel is going to suck balls. You are ignoring everything that is being said, just write what you think is going to happen in your fantasy world and be done with it.

A dragon will never fly as fast as an apache. nor will it be nearly as maneuverable, and it will be destroyed from beyond visual range. as clearly explained. it has absolutely no chance. it will die before knowing that someone is trying to kill it. forget about your evasive techniques. Your story has absolutely no plausible basis in the real world, you are the wrong forums. I suggest dungeons and dragons.

explosive rounds will kill it with a single hit, an apache has a targeting coputer that adjusts for wind, speed, distance, bullet drop, ambient temperature etc.

its a stupid idea. im sorry.

Here is whats gong to happen... Dragon is flying through the air, and thinking "gee what a wonderful and warm da..." at this point it explodes as a 30mm round penetrates its body cavity and rips its internal organs into shreds and it falls out of the sky in bloody pieces. Approximatelly 3 seconds later you will hear a stuttering report of an automatic cannon. Because the sound will arrive to your ears after the dragon is dead. you will never hear or see the actual apache at all.

wow.... I got so many imagine about my dragon vs apache now, Thank

It seem that many have believe that human technology can outclass dragon.

In my novel, my dragon have human with military knowledge give it back up about radar missile and how powerful human weapon these day is.

well, my dragon won't stay still to be easy target, It can fly as fast as Apache itself (or faster when condition is met) and with wing of animal, it will completely outclass Apache in terms of maneuverability and evasion.

so I don't think explosive round will be any useful, the faraway both each other is The longer bullet flight path, with speed of living animal, evading bullet would be easy (make evading move before it can fire). If apache come too close, it would be burn down by explosive flame shot.

(...haven't you seen godzilla (usa) evading missile 555)

and dragon have high sensation, It will easily herd sound of Apache rotor at least 2 - 3 kilometer and it can smell fuel burn from engine too.


and I wonder, If missile are miss target by passing it, can missile do U-turn move to track down target??

also, about auto aiming device by computer, can it compute delay aim with zigzag target?
..............................................

Am I Chinese? no, I'm Thailand.
 
  • #29
JaredJames
2,745
22
hi, you asked real advice because you want to write a realistic novel.

Im sorry to say but your novel is going to suck balls. You are ignoring everything that is being said, just write what you think is going to happen in your fantasy world and be done with it.

A dragon will never fly as fast as an apache. nor will it be nearly as maneuverable, and it will be destroyed from beyond visual range. as clearly explained. it has absolutely no chance. it will die before knowing that someone is trying to kill it. Your story has absolutely no plausible basis in the real world, you are the wrong forums. I suggest dungeons and dragons.

explosive rounds will kill it with a single hit, an apache has a targeting coputer that adjusts for wind, speed, distance, bullet drop, ambient temperature etc.

its a stupid idea. im sorry.

Which is why in Avatar, the Na'Vi waited for them to enter the magnetic mountain things to disrupt targeting. Giving the flying beasts a chance against all that military hardware.
 
  • #30
stooch
21
1
avatar had some of the sloppiest and dumbest writing ever. its a remake of dances with wolves, i can write pages and pages of how many plot holes that movie has.

for one, how can "avatars" communicate with the "pods" with humans inside if all communications are disrupted? or how can naavi shoot arrows at aircraft in the beginning of the movie and have the arrows bounce off, and in the end of the movie have arrows penetrate?

also why even send a bigass and slow transport jet when all they had to do is bomb the tree from orbit? they could clearly see the naavi concetrations on radar... all they had to do was carpet bomb the place from high altitude, out of naavi reach and be done with it. Forget realism, that movie was not realistic. it had tall, blue, cats with tits.. cmon now. wrong forum lol.
 
  • #31
JaredJames
2,745
22
Still a damn fine tactical move.

You'll also find it matches pocahontas perfectly too.
 
  • #32
stooch
21
1
if by tactical you mean stupid, i would have to agree. whoever was in charge of tactics should have been shoved out of the airlock.
 
  • #33
JaredJames
2,745
22
if by tactical you mean stupid, i would have to agree. whoever was in charge of tactics should have been shoved out of the airlock.

So far as the marines were concerned, certainly.

But it doesn't change the fact it was a damn fine tactical move on the part of the Na'Vi, waiting for them to enter the area where their targeting systems were ineffectual.

If you're on the back of a dragon, which is p*ss poor against anything remotely resembling a targeting / weapons system, do you fly at them and engage at their own base or do you wait for them to come to you in an area where their instruments and targeting are useless?
 
  • #34
stooch
21
1
There were no tactics! the naavi won because they were supposed to. its a rehash of dances with wolves. This is a physics forum and we are talking about realistic military right?



this is a ciws. it uses a combination of radar and optical tracking and can take out mortars flying through the air, and supersonic missiles skimming 5 ft above water. This is over 20 year old technology. a complement of these would annihilate any naavi up to 3miles away. They wouldnt even have to worry about the tree of life, just set one up on their bulldozers and drive over the naavi house.

anything living would be obliterated by a hail of 30mm depleted uranium/explosive shells before it even realizes that its about to die.

this is supposed to be in the future right? i would expect for them to have even more advanced weapons, lasers, rail guns, active area denial systems, etc. Physically speaking, it would be a slaughter.

better yet, they knew enough about naavi biology to engineer remote controlled clones... all they had to do was design a virus or a pesticide that targets only the naavi and clean out the area without breaking so much as a twig.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Active_Denial_System

this is a microwave based system that causes extreme pain via nerve receptors without even damaging the targeted subjects, all they had to do was turn it on and aim it in the general direction and the naavi would voluntarily vacate the premises.

avatar was not an excersize of realistic science fiction, its a rehashed fairy tale.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #35
Chitose
73
0
Well...sorry for being fantasy.

for me, Human 'must not think' that they technology can overcome every species, nature have unlimited way to beat human tech to mere scarp.

plot of my novel.
If human developed brain and knowledge and create magnificent thing.
Dragon is also developed their body to close all gap.

so I deiced that human weapon and dragon can fight 'on par'. result is depend of situation and environment.

............................................

and last
Thank you for all comment, I have a lot of idea for my work :)
 

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