Home of RF and Wireless Vendors and Resources

One Stop For Your RF and Wireless Need

Difference between semi-active, passive and active radar homing missile

This page compares semi-active radar homing vs passive radar homing vs active radar homing and mentions difference between semi-active, passive and active radar homing missile systems.

Radar homing guidance is most common form of guidance system used for anti-air missiles. Based on their working operation there are three types of radar homing missile systems viz. semi-active, passive and active.

Semi-active Radar Homing

Semi-active Radar Homing

Figure-1 depicts Semi-active Radar Homing working operation. Following are the features of Semi-active Radar Homing.
• It uses only receiver where as target is illuminated by near by radar or some other external source.
• The reflected energy from the target is received by the receiver mounted on the missile.
• The computer connected with the receiver is used to determine relative trajectory of the target. This information is used by the missile system in order to intercept the target accurately.
• It is used for long air to air and ground to air missile systems.
• It is used for "all weather" guidance system as anti-aircraft system.

1st generation SAM used by the RSAF

Active Radar Homing

Active Radar Homing

Figure-2 depicts Active Radar Homing working operation. Following are the features of Active Radar Homing.
• It transmits the energy and receives the reflected energy. Unlike semi-active, above is done by missile itself as it houses both transmitter and receiver parts.
• No external source is needed in this radar homing system.

• AMRAAM air-to-air missile
• Exocet anti ship missile

AMRAAM AIM-120 is combination of both active and semi-active homing. It supports medium range of about 50 Km.

Passive Radar Homing

Passive Radar Homing

Figure-3 depicts Passive Radar Homing working operation. Following are the features of Passive Radar Homing.
• It uses heat radiations from the target. The heat energy is being used by the missile to determine target's parameters.
• It is independent of any external guidance system.
• It only receives the signal and can not transmit the signal similar to semi-active radar homing system.

• Mistral deployed by the RSAF is a passive infrared homing guidance system.
• AIM9L/M passive IR homing guidance seeker

• Semi-active and active homing missiles can be detected easily.
• Passive homing missile is difficult to detect and easier to break lock.

Also refer difference between AESA radar Vs PESA radar >> and Monostatic radar Vs Bistatic radar >>.


RADAR tutorial   Doppler Radar   FMCW RADAR   RADAR BANDs   RADAR SCOPE   Weather Radar   Ground Penetrating Radar System   RADAR RANGE and RESOLUTION  

What is Difference between

difference between OFDM and OFDMA
Difference between SC-FDMA and OFDM
Difference between SISO and MIMO
Difference between TDD and FDD

RF and Wireless Terminologies

Share this page

Translate this page