The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is developing the Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (TDWR) system to determine the location and severity of LAWS (low-altitude windshear) phenomena and other weather hazards (e.g. tornadoes and turbulence) and to provide the pertinent information to real-time air traffic control users. The FAA program for developing and evaluating the TDWR is described, with emphasis on the resolution of key technical issues such as separation of the radar return due to the low-altitude weather phenomena from that caused by various clutter sources and the automatic detection of the phenomena by means of pattern recognition applied to images depicting the weather reflectivity and Doppler shift. These technical issues have been addressed using experimental data obtained using a testbed radar in representative meteorological regimes. The system performance has been assessed using numerous experimental windshear data sets with corresponding 'truth' developed by experienced radar meteorologists from a number of organizations. It is shown that the system provides very reliable detection of strong microbursts in a variety of environments with a gust-front detection capability that supports effective planning of airport runway use.