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A substrate integrated waveguide (SIW) cavity backed active slot antenna oscillator is proposed, the operation frequency of which can be tuned by means of a properly connected varactor. The cavity backed structure permits overcoming potential problems such as heat dissipation and unwanted surface wave modes in large array implementations, and may provide better phase noise performance. The use of SIW technology permits a cost-effective fabrication process and simple implementation at millimetre-wave frequency, for radar and communication applications. Full-wave FEM-based analysis is used for the design of the radiating structure, while harmonic balance and transient simulations are employed in the design of the active antenna oscillator and in the study of the stability of its steady-state solutions. Tunable active antenna prototypes have been implemented and measured.