The Power Of Saber
By Dialogo October 01, 2011
A portable radar system that can track as many as 40 aerial targets was one of the many high-tech pieces of equipment used to keep athletes safe at the 5th Military World Games in Rio de Janeiro in July 2011.
The Radio Frequency Emission Aerial Target Tracking System (SABER, the Portuguese word for knowledge) M60 radar is the most modern radar in the world in its class, according to the Brazilian Army. The SABER M60 radar was manufactured with 100 percent Brazilian technology.
"The SABER M60 radar was deployed to support aerial surveillance during the 5th Military World Games, similar to what took place during the 2007 Pan-American Games, proving once again its suitability for deployment during these kinds of events," said Colonel Roberto Castelo Branco Jorge, advisor to the deputy head of the Brazilian Army Technology Center (CTEx). Col. Castelo explained that the center developed this technology to complement Brazilian anti-aircraft defense because traditional radars aim at higher altitudes and miss many aircraft, particularly in mountainous regions.
SABER can simultaneously detect and track up to 40 aerial targets, within a radius of 60 kilometers, at an altitude of up to 5,200 meters. It can also identify helicopters, fighter planes flying at low altitudes, and slow-moving objects traveling at speeds of up to 32 kilometers per hour, thus protecting an important aspect of the country's security.
In addition to low-altitude aerial search and surveillance, the device performs a mechanical scan called pulse-Doppler, which uses pulsed electromagnetic emissions. It is resistant to electromagnetic interference and is transmitted at low frequencies, making it very discreet. It also has an identification friend or foe system.
Weighing about 200 kilos, SABER is easily deployed. Three Soldiers can set up and begin using the system in about 15 minutes. The system can be plugged into a conventional power grid or be operated on batteries and can be transported by air, water or land, using only one light vehicle. Its portability makes it possible for use in sites of difficult access, such as mountains and the roofs of buildings.
The device is connected to the Army's anti-aircraft defense system and is linked to a command and control center installed in a van, also manufactured by CTEx. The anti-aircraft unit, best positioned to provide protection, receives an alert when the radar identifies a threat. The radar can be integrated into a network of 12 different weapons. With only a click of the mouse, the plane's position, altitude, distance and angle in relation to the anti-aircraft operations center are then revealed, and a shot is fired. The radar's flexible architecture can be programmed by hardware and software to enable the constant improvement of the device without the need for fundamental structural modifications.
Despite being strictly developed for military use, SABER can also have civilian applications. With a secondary radar range of nearly 80 kilometers operating in A and C modes, the device can be used as a possible substitute in civilian aviation. Col. Castelo explained that the SABER M60 radar has the capacity to support terminal-area air traffic control at low-traffic airfields and at higher-capacity airfields if the fixed terminal-area radar were to become unavailable temporarily.
Besides its advanced technology and versatility, SABER also has the virtue of adapting to the natural environment of countries like Brazil, where the jungle is dense and humid. According to Col. Castelo, appropriate frequencies and signal modulation techniques can be chosen for the specific environment. The radar is a useful tool for protecting environments like the Amazon due to its light weight and reduced dimensions, which allow it to be transported by small fixed-wing aircraft such as the Brazilian Air Force's C-98 Caravan and helicopters, said Col. Castelo.
CTEx researchers are currently working on an even more sophisticated SABER radar, the M200, which will have a range of up to 200 kilometers and use the principles of an active electronically scanned array. In addition to surveillance functions, these modifications will allow the radar to perform other missions, such as designating targets for weapons systems.
CTEX: Pure Intelligence
Based in Rio de Janeiro, the Army Technology Center (CTEx) is the main agency responsible for research and development of technological projects for the Brazilian Army. The institution has agreements with the Project Study Financing Agency (FINEP) and the Research Support Foundation of Rio de Janeiro State (FAPERJ), which provide the resources necessary to undertake projects of the scope and scale of the SABER M60 and SABER M200 radars.
CTEx is a regional reference point for other countries when it comes to technological innovations and has already developed high-tech military hardware such as armored vehicles, aerially transported vehicles for paratroopers and thermal imaging goggles. The Gaucho military reconnaissance vehicle, manufactured in Argentina, for example, was developed with CTEx technology, in collaboration with other Argentine military agencies.
Good background information - What RF range does the system operate over.