The inverse problem of reconstructing the location and size of defects in a coated metallic pipe from single frequency limited view electromagnetic scattered field is considered. Specifically, the paper addresses the problem of assessing shape changes in the shadow region entailed by limited view data in 2D by operating in an intermediate size parameter (ka) range. The inverse scattering problem is formulated as a non-linear optimization problem solved through genetic algorithm that seeks to minimize in the least-squared sense the difference between measured data and simulated data through iterations of the solution to a forward problem. The hybrid finite element boundary integral formulations were used to solve the forward problem of coated metallic pipe with defects. The proposed inversion methodology was applied for shadow region shape change assessment to determine whether a metal pipe is coated or not, and to reconstruct the location and size of corrosion-like defect, over a range of size parameters. The study is carried out using transverse electric and transverse magnetic polarized fields. To understand the effect of coating on backscattered fields, parametric studies are conducted using numerical data. A range for size parameter (Formula presented.) was found to produce the highest contrast between defect free pipe and coated metallic pipes with defects in the deep shadow region. The experiments are carried out using vector network analyzer in an anechoic chamber. The inversion results obtained using measured data were found be in good agreement with inversion results obtained using synthetic data. Estimated extent of corrosion in deep shadow region of a coated metallic pipe was found to be within 9 % of actual extent of corrosion. © 2016, Springer Science+Business Media New York.