Light Gradient Boosting Machine-Based Low–Slow–Small Target Detection Algorithm for Airborne Radar

Jing Liu*, Pengcheng Huang, Cao Zeng, Guisheng Liao, Jingwei Xu, Haihong Tao, Filbert H. Juwono

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


For airborne radar, detecting a low–slow–small (LSS) target is a hot and challenging topic, which results from the rapidly increasing number of non-cooperative flying LSS targets becoming of widespread concern, and the low signal-to-clutter ratio (SCR) of LSS targets results in the targets being particularly easily overwhelmed by the clutter. In this paper, a novel light gradient boosting machine (LightGBM)-based LSS target detection algorithm for airborne radar is proposed. The proposed method, based on the current real-time clutter environment of the range cell to be detected, firstly designs a specific real-time space-time LSS target signal repository with special dimensions and structures. Then, the proposed method creatively designs a new fast-built real-time training feature dataset specifically for the LSS target and the current clutter, together with a series of unique data transformations, sample selection, data restructuring, feature extraction, and feature processing. Finally, the proposed method develops a unique machine learning-based LSS target detection classifier model for the designed training dataset, by fully excavating and utilizing the advantages of the ensemble decision trees-based LightGBM. Consequently, the pre-processed data in the range cell of interest are classified using the proposed algorithm, which achieves LSS target detection by evaluating the output results of the designed classifier. Compared with the traditional classical target detection methods, the proposed algorithm is capable of providing markedly superior performance for LSS target detection. With an appropriate computational time, the proposed algorithm attains the highest probability of detecting LSS targets under the low SCR. The simulation outcomes and detection results with the experimental data are employed to validate the effectiveness and merits of the proposed algorithm.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1737
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - May 2024


  • airborne radar target detection
  • clutter suppression
  • light gradient boosting machine
  • low–slow–small target


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