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We address the problem of polarimetric adaptive detection of range-spread targets in Gaussian noise with unknown covariance matrix. At the design stage, we model the target echo from each polarimetric channel as a deterministic signal known up to a scaling factor (possibly varying from cell to cell), which accounts for the polarimetric scattering properties of the target. We first show the failure of the generalized likelihood ratio test (GLRT) procedure to deal with this kind of problem, and thus, we propose a fully adaptive detector based on the method of sieves. We also derive the analytical expression for the probability of false alarm and show that the newly introduced receiver can be made bounded constant false alarm rate (CFAR). Finally, we present simulation results highlighting the performance gain that can be achieved by resorting to polarization diversity in conjunction with high resolution.