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Initializing and maintaining a track for a low observable (LO) (low SNR, low target detection probability and high false alarm rate) target can be very challenging because of the low information content of measurements. In addition, in some scenarios, target-originated measurements might not be present in many consecutive scans because of mispointing, target maneuvers, or erroneous preprocessing. That is, one might have a set of noninformative scans that could result in poor track initialization and maintenance. In this paper an algorithm based on the expectation-maximization (EM) algorithm combined with maximum likelihood (ML) estimation is presented for tracking slowly maneuvering targets in heavy clutter and possibly noninformative scans. The adaptive sliding-window EM-ML approach, which operates in batch mode, tries to reject or weight down noninformative scans using the Q-function in the M-step of the EM algorithm. It is shown that target features in the form of, for example, amplitude information (AI), can also be used to improve the estimates. In addition, performance bounds based on the supplemented EM (SEM) technique are also presented. The effectiveness of new algorithm is first demonstrated on a 78-frame long wave infrared (LWIR) data sequence consisting of an Fl Mirage fighter jet in heavy clutter. Previously, this scenario has been used as a benchmark for evaluating the performance of other track initialization algorithms. The new EM-ML estimator confirms the track by frame 20 while the ML-PDA (maximum likelihood estimator combined with probabilistic data association) algorithm, the IMM-MHT (interacting multiple model estimator combined with multiple hypothesis tracking) and the EVIM-PDA estimator previously required 28, 38, and 39 frames, respectively. The benefits of the new algorithm in terms of accuracy, early detection, and computational load are illustrated using simulated scenarios as well.