Emitter signal waveform recognition and classification are necessary survival techniques in electronic warfare systems. The emitters use various techniques for power management and complex intra-pulse modulations, which can create what looks like a noisy signal to an intercept receiver, so emitter signal waveform recognition at a low signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) has gained increased attention. In this study, we propose an autocorrelation feature image construction technique (ACFICT) combined with a convolutional neural network (CNN) to maintain the unique feature of each signal, and a structure optimization for CNN input layer called hybrid model is designed to achieve image enhancement of the signal autocorrelation, which is different from using a single image combined with CNN to complete classification. We demonstrate the performance of ACFICT by comparing feature images generated by different signal pre-processing algorithms, and the evaluation indicators are signal recognition rate, image stability degree, and image restoration degree. This paper simulates six types of the signals by combining ACFICT with three types of hybrid model, the simulation results compared with the literature show that the proposed methods not only has a high universality, but also better adapts to waveform recognition at low SNR environment. When the SNR is –6 dB, the overall recognition rate of the method reaches 88%.
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