How Fighter Jets Lock On (and How the Targets Know)

The primary technology that a military aircraft uses to lock and track an enemy aircraft is its onboard radar. Aircraft radars typically have two modes: search and track. In search mode, the radar sweeps a radio beam across the sky in a zig-zag pattern. When the radio beam is reflected by a target aircraft, an indication is shown on the radar display. In search mode, no single aircraft is being tracked, but the pilot can usually tell generally what a particular radar return is doing because with each successive sweep, the radar return moves slightly. Read More >>