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The received signal in forward scatter radar (FSR) depends on the target's electrical size and trajectory, which are unknown a priori. As a result, in practical situations, it is impossible to obtain the accurate reference function at the reception side, and adaptation of optimal filtering is therefore proposed for this case. This paper presents a signal processing algorithm for ground target detection using FSR, which includes the construction of the adaptive reference functions and the identification of target velocity and its observation time. Furthermore, the algorithm performance is analytically determined under practical motion trajectories such as different motion directions and baseline crossing points, which indicate the effectiveness of the proposed algorithm in a practical case for FSR. The effectiveness of the algorithm is shown using both simulated and experimental data. Finally, the resolution in convoy targets in ground-based FSR is analytically obtained for the first time; the resolution is totally different from the resolution in conventional radar theory because of the target signature characteristics in ground-based FSR. The majority of the analytical results are verified experimentally.