Could a fighter pilot in 2015 using an AN/APG-79 AESA radar "lock-on" a single bird?

I know that modern radars like the AN/APG-79 in modern combat aircraft like the F/A-18F filter out false alarms with Doppler processing and use what could be called "filters". Could an F/A-18F pilot "lock-on" a single bird using STT (Single-Target Tracking) mode or by using any other radar modes?

  • $\begingroup$ Just for clarity, are you asking about literally birds, that is, living avian creatures with feathers and typically the ability to fly or at least soar under their own power? $\endgroup$
    – user
    Apr 4, 2018 at 9:29
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Yes, I am talking about a biological. $\endgroup$ Apr 4, 2018 at 10:03
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    $\begingroup$ @ChristopheSpitzer - They sing too much in the morning? Have you tried other methods? :D $\endgroup$
    – user14897
    Apr 4, 2018 at 10:11
  • $\begingroup$ You are aware that the full capabilities of a military system such as this are generally classified and unavailable to the public? $\endgroup$
    – CGCampbell
    Apr 4, 2018 at 18:06
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, of course, DOD clearance must be "secret" but this is an hypothesis "bird" that has been proposed for this event, so I am investigating this possibility : metabunk.org/… $\endgroup$ Apr 5, 2018 at 7:45

1 Answer 1


Depending on the radar, the accuracy fallow might be too big for a smaller object as radar resolution and accuracy matter a great deal in detecting and hitting a small target, that is why usually birds do not show up on radar or are actually filtered out as they could not hit targets that small anyway…

Resolution refers to the size, meaning electromagnetic size or radar cross section (RCS), of the objects a radar can detect. The smaller the minimum detectable RCS of a radar system, the better its resolution. A radar with poor resolution might see a supertanker sailing past but not a tugboat, for example.

Accuracy is referring to the degree of uncertainty in the radar’s calculation of the target’s location. A very accurate radar, for example, might tell you that it’s detected a target at a distance (range) of 87.118km ±10cm from the radar antenna. A much less accurate radar seeing the same target might report its range as 90km ±100m.

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    Feb 26, 2021 at 14:14

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