M200 Vigilante radar successfully passed its first test

During the summer of 2023, one of the projects involving the Brazilian Army and Embraer, the third-largest civil aircraft producer, underwent successful testing. A segment of the Saber Radar M200 Vigilante radar completed the required tests under the intricate detection conditions of the Parintins Folklore Festival.

M200 Vigilante radar

M200 Vigilante radar ⓒ Claudio Capucho
M200 Vigilante radar ⓒ Claudio Capucho

The Brazilian army developed the M200 Vigilante radar under the Saber Radar project. The Saber Radar initiative aims to create Brazilian air defense radar technology. This evolving technology can track both airborne and ground targets, with a unique feature being its potential integration into weapon systems or missile-based anti-aircraft guns. The project targets both military and civilian applications. The SABER radars can track up to 40 targets simultaneously, categorizing them as friendly or hostile.

Various radar versions exist within the project, differing in electronic and technical capabilities. One of the primary distinctions among these models is their detection range. For instance, the SENTIR M20 model boasts the shortest detection range at 25 km, while the SABER M200 Multimissão model leads the family with the widest detection range of 400 km to 500 km.

The radar model under discussion in this article, the SABER M200 Vigilante, offers a detection range of 200 km and is transportable via 6×6 trucks. It notably features a fully electronic azimuth sweep.

First test

Embraer KC-390 Millenium ⓒ Colin Cooke
Embraer KC-390 Millenium ⓒ Colin Cooke

CTEx (the technological center of the Brazilian Army) and BRADAR, a company that is part of Embraer S.A., the Brazilian multinational aerospace corporation, are developing the Saber Radar project. Embraer is the world’s third-largest producer of civil aircraft after Boeing and Airbus. It is also a leading producer of regional jets and ranks among the world’s top 100 defense contractors.

During the summer of 2023, Embraer and the Brazilian Army conducted the initial test of the M200 Vigilante radar. The test encompassed various elements, including deploying radar equipment on the KC-390 aircraft (Embraer C-390 Millennium), a medium-sized transport aircraft. The operation occurred at Júlio Belém Airport, situated in Parintins, a municipality in Brazil’s far eastern region of the Amazonas state.

The complexity of the task

Parintins Folklore Festival 2023 ⓒ Clara Angeleas
Parintins Folklore Festival 2023 ⓒ Clara Angeleas

The developers chose the testing location for the M200 Vigilante radar to heighten the complexity of the task. During the test period, the Parintins Folkloric Festival, or Festival do Boi-Bumbá, took place in the region. This event commemorates a local legend involving a resurrected ox. The festival draws a significant number of attendees to Parintins, resulting in heavy traffic at Júlio Belém Airport — more than 800 landings and takeoffs occurred within a week. However, these conditions were intentionally required to assess and stress-test the new equipment rigorously.

The conducted tests garnered feedback from both parties involved in the Saber Radar project’s development. Representatives from the developer’s side provided the following comments:

“The Parintins Folkloric Festival allowed us to test M200 Vigilante’s performance in the challenging environment of the Amazon rainforest. Embraer’s joint operation with the Brazilian Army and the Brazilian Air Force demonstrated the radar’s versatility, agility, precision, and robustness even in its first operation. We are very pleased with the results. This is an important step for the effective and future operational use by the Armed Forces in Brazil and abroad,” says Bosco da Costa Junior, President and CEO of Embraer Defense & Security.

“We are proud to join and contribute to this significant event in the Amazon region. The partnership and collaborative efforts between the Brazilian Army and Embraer have fostered technological autonomy in digital radars (phased array) for over 15 years. Conducting this exercise marks another crucial stride in validating the technical attributes of the M200 Vigilante. This will enhance the capabilities of our troops and sustain ongoing operations with the backing of the Brazilian Defense Industrial Cluster,” says Gen. Achilles Furlan Neto, Chief of the Army Science and Technology Department.

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