Measurement-Level Target Tracking Fusion for Over-the-Horizon Radar Network Using Message Passing

Hua Lan, Zengfu Wang, Xianglong Bai, Quan Pan, Kun Lu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Tracking an unknown number of targets based on multipath measurements provided by an over-the-horizon radar (OTHR) network with a statistical ionospheric model is complicated, which requires solving four subproblems: Target detection, target tracking, multipath data association, and ionospheric heights identification. A joint solution is desired since the four subproblems are highly correlated, but suffering from the intractable inference problem of high-dimensional latent variables. In this article, a unified message passing (MP) approach, combining belief propagation (BP) and mean-field (MF) approximation, is developed for simplifying the intractable inference. Based upon the factor graph corresponding to a factorization of the joint probability density function (PDF) of the latent variables and a choice for a separation of this factorization into BP region and MF region, the posterior PDFs of target kinematic state and ionospheric heights, are approximated by MF due to its simple MP update rules for conjugate-exponential models. The posterior PDFs of target visibility state and multipath data association which contains one-to-one frame (hard) constraints (i.e., at each time, a measurement is either originated from one target via a particular path or it is clutter, and each target generates at most one measurement under a particular path) are approximated by BP. Finally, the approximated posterior PDFs are updated iteratively in a closed-loop manner, which is effective for dealing with the coupling issue among latent variables. Meanwhile, the proposed approach has the measurement-level fusion architecture due to the direct processing of the raw multipath measurements from an OTHR network, which is beneficial to improving tracking fusion performance. Its performance is demonstrated on a simulated OTHR network multitarget tracking scenario.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9291397
Pages (from-to)1600-1623
Number of pages24
JournalIEEE Transactions on Aerospace and Electronic Systems
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Belief propagation (BP)
  • Mean field (MF)
  • Measurement-level fusion
  • Message passing (MP)
  • Multiple target tracking
  • Over-the-horizon radar (OTHR) network


Dive into the research topics of 'Measurement-Level Target Tracking Fusion for Over-the-Horizon Radar Network Using Message Passing'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this