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Multiple-input–multiple-output (MIMO) sonar systems offer new perspectives for target detection and area surveillance. This paper introduces a unified formulation for sonar MIMO systems and focuses on the target detection and recognition capability of these systems. The multiplication of the number of transmitters and receivers not only provides a greater variety in terms of target view angles but also provides meaningful statistics on the target itself. Assuming that views are independent and the MIMO system is large enough, we demonstrate that target recognition is possible with only one MIMO snapshot. By studying the detection performance of MIMO sonars we also demonstrate that such systems solve the speckle noise and decorrelate individual scatterers inside one cell resolution, leading to super-resolution imaging. We also show that, if carefully designed, MIMO systems can surpass the resolution of a synthetic aperture sonar (SAS) system using the same bandwidth. All the discussed properties are derived from the independent view assumption. Fulfilling this assumption drives the design and efficiency of such systems.