Since 1994 the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) has operated an airborne radio-echo sounding system for remote-sensing studies of the polar ice caps in Antarctica and in Greenland. It is used to map ice thicknesses and internal layernigs of glaciers, ice sheets and ice shelves, and is capable of penetrating ice thicknesses of up to 4 km. The system was designed and built by AWI in cooperation with Aerodata Flugmeßtechnik GmbH, Technische Umversitat Hamburg-Harburg and the Deutsches Zentrum fur Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V. The system uses state-of-the-art techniques, and results in high vertical (5 m) as well as along-track (3.25 m) resolution. The radar signal is a 150 MHz burst with a duration of 60 or 600 ns. The peak power is 1.6 kW, and the system sensitivity is 190 dB. The short backfire principle has been adopted and optimized for antennae used on Polar2, a Dormer 228-100 aircraft, resulting in an antenna gain of 14 dB each. Digital data recording allows further processing. The quality of the recorded data can be monitored on screen and as online analogue plots during the flight.