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Under the Mojave configurable computing project, we have developed a system for achieving high performance on an automatic target recognition (ATR) application through the use of configurable computing technology. The ATR system studied here involves real-time image acquisition from a synthetic aperture radar (SAR). SAR images exhibit statistical properties which can be used to improve system performance. In this paper, the Mojave configurable computing system uses field programmable gate arrays (FPGA's) to implement highly specialized circuits while retaining the flexibility of programmable components. A controller sequences through a set of specialized circuits in response to real-time events. Computer-aided design (CAD) tools have been developed to support the automatic generation of these specialized circuits. The resulting configurable computing system achieves a significant performance advantage over the existing solution, which is based on application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) technology.