Ground-based radar (GBR) are increasingly being used either as a vibration-based or as guided-wave-based structural health monitoring (SHM) sensors for monitoring of wind turbines blades. Despite various studies mentioning the use of radar as transducer for SHM, a singular exclusive review of GBR in blade monitoring may have been lacking. Various studies undertaken for SHM of blades using GBR have largely been laboratory-based or with actual wind turbines in parked positions or focussed on the extraction of only specific condition parameters like frequency or deflection with no validation with actual expected operating data. The present study provides quantitative data that relates in-field monitoring of wind turbines by GBR with actual design operating data. As such it helps the monitoring of blades during design, testing, and operation. Further, it supports the determination of fatigue damage for in-field wind turbine blades especially those made of composite materials by way of condition parameters residuals and deflection. A review of the two GBR-SHM approaches is thus undertaken. Additionally, a case study demonstrating its practical use as a vibration-based noncontact SHM sensors is also provided. The study contributes to the monitoring of blades during design, testing, and operation. Further, it supports the determination of damage detection for in-field wind turbine blades within a 3-tier SHM framework especially those made of composite materials by way of condition parameter residuals of extracted modal frequencies and deflection. © 2018 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.