Conventional constant false alarm rate (CFAR) methods use a fixed number of cells to estimate the background variance. For homogeneous environments, it is desirable to increase the number of cells, at the cost of increased computation and memory requirements, in order to improve the estimation performance. For nonhomogeneous environments, it is desirable to use less number of cells in order to reduce the number of false alarms around the clutter edges. In this work, we present a solution with two exponential smoothers (first order IIR filters) having different time-constants to leverage the conflicting requirements of homogeneous and nonhomogeneous environments. The system is designed to use the filter having the large time-constant in homogeneous environments and to promptly switch to the filter having the small time constant once a clutter edge is encountered. The main advantages of proposed Switching IIR CFAR method are computational simplicity, small memory requirement (in comparison to windowing based methods) and its good performance in homogeneous environments (due to the large time-constant smoother) and rapid adaptation to clutter edges (due to the small time-constant smoother). (C) 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.