Target recognition in sonar imagery has long been an active research area in the maritime domain, especially in the mine-counter measure context. Recently it has received even more attention as new sensors with increased resolution have been developed; new threats to critical maritime assets and a new paradigm for target recognition based on autonomous platforms have emerged. With the recent introduction of Synthetic Aperture Sonar systems and high-frequency sonars, sonar resolution has dramatically increased and noise levels decreased. Sonar images are distance images but at high resolution they tend to appear visually as optical images. Traditionally algorithms have been developed specifically for imaging sonars because of their limited resolution and high noise levels. With high-resolution sonars, algorithms developed in the image processing field for natural images become applicable. However, the lack of large datasets has hampered the development of such algorithms. Here we present a fast and realistic sonar simulator enabling development and evaluation of such algorithms. We develop a classifier and then analyse its performances using our simulated synthetic sonar images. Finally, we discuss sensor resolution requirements to achieve effective classification of various targets and demonstrate that with high resolution sonars target highlight analysis is the key for target recognition. Copyright © 2010 Yan Pailhas, et al.