A methodology for the estimation of ladar cross sections from high-resolution image data of geometrically complex targets is presented. Coherent CO2 laser radar was used to generate high-resolution amplitude imagery of a UC-8 Buffalo test aircraft at a range of 1.3 km at nine different aspect angles. The average target ladar cross section was synthesized from these data and calculated to be σT = 15.4 dBsm, which is similar to the expected microwave radar cross sections. The aspect angle dependence of the cross section shows pronounced peaks at nose on and broadside, which are also in agreement with radar results. Strong variations in both the mean amplitude and the statistical distributions of amplitude with the aspect angle have also been observed. The relative mix of diffuse and specular returns causes significant deviations from a simple Lambertian or Swerling II target, especially at broadside where large normal surfaces are present.
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