Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) is a coherent imaging radar. Hence, coherence is critical in SAR imaging. In a coherent system, several sources can degrade performance. Based on the HJ-1-C SAR system implementation and sensor characteristics, this study evaluates the effect of frequency stability and pulse-to-pulse timing jitter on the SAR coherent performance. A stable crystal oscillator with short-term stability of 10×1.0−10 / 5 ms is used to generate the reference frequency by using a direct multiplier and divider. Azimuth ISLR degradation owing to the crystal oscillator phase noise is negligible. The standard deviation of the pulse-to-pulse timing jitter of HJ-1-C SAR is lower than 2ns (rms) and the azimuth random phase error in the synthetic aperture time slightly degrades the side lobe of the azimuth impulse response. The mathematical expressions and simulation results are presented and suggest that the coherent performance of the HJ-1-C SAR system meets the requirements of synthetic aperture radar imaging.