This paper considers the problem of multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) radars employing space-time coding (STC) to achieve diversity. To this end, after briefly outlining the model of the received echo, a suitable detection structure is derived, and its performance is expressed in closed form as a function of the clutter statistical properties and of the space-time code matrix. Interestingly, this receiver requires prior knowledge of the clutter covariance, but the detection threshold is functionally independent thereof. At the transmitter design stage, we give two criteria for code construction: the first is based on the classical Chernoff bound, the second is an information-theoretic criterion. Interestingly, the two criteria lead to the same condition for code optimality, which in turn specializes, under the assumption of uncorrelated clutter and square code matrix, in some well-known full-rate space-time codes. A thorough performance assessment is also given, so as to establish the optimum achievable performance for MIMO radar systems.
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