The Air Force employs radars, satellites and aircraft 24 hours a day in actions that guarantee the country’s sovereignty
CECOMSAER – Lieutenant-Colonel Pinheiro
The Brazilian Air Force (FAB) is responsible for the Brazilian Aerospace Defense System (SISDABRA), which meets the needs of Brazil to control and exercise actions against air movements circulating in the Brazilian Airspace that are in conflict with national interests or in disagreement with the rules and norms in force, both in peace time and in an eventual conflict.
The System is composed of a set of organizations that have in common the performance of activities, or the possession of means that can be employed in benefit of the purpose of ensuring the exercise of sovereignty in the Brazilian Airspace. Participation in SISDABRA is not restricted to the Armed Forces. Eventually, agencies of the Auxiliary Forces, of the Federal, State and Municipal governments, regional organizations, and even non-governmental entities may join.
The Air Force acts uninterruptedly in the combat against illegal mining activity on indigenous lands, as part of Operation Yanomami. The missions are carried out in support of the Federal Police and other security and inspection agencies. For example, since July 22, the C-105 Amazonas and H-60 Black Hawk aircraft have been used in actions such as destroying mining structures and equipment, seizing ammunition, transporting teams of Federal Police officers and other agents, totaling about 60 hours of flight time.
The Air Force maintains defense alerts in the airspace that comprises the Yanomami Indigenous Land, operating from Boa Vista (RR) and carrying out airspace policing actions 24 hours a day.
In the year 2022 alone, 34 aircraft interceptions were carried out in the vicinity of Boa Vista, including the mentioned region. In addition, FAB conducted, among others, logistical airlift missions for the infiltration and exfiltration of Federal Police officers, transporting food baskets for the Yanomami indigenous Brazilians, completing more than 230 flight hours in 2021 and 2022, in support of other agencies.
On a permanent basis and in conjunction with the Public Safety Agencies of Brazil and neighboring countries, and in compliance with Decree No. 5144 of July 16, 2004, FAB maintains OstiumOperation, with the goal of curbing irregular flights that may be linked to crimes. In the last three years, 652 interceptions were carried out, throughout Brazil, with aircraft of the Brazilian Air Force in events related to Air Defense missions within Ostium Operation.
In 2021, interceptions in events related to Air Defense missions as part of the Operation resulted in about 1,680 kg of drugs seized. Since 2017, the amount totals more than 7.2 tons of narcotics taken out of circulation. In 2022 alone, interceptions caused the seizure of more than a ton of drugs.
The surveillance of the Brazilian airspace is carried out 24 hours a day by the FAB by means of a radar network that covers the country’s continental territory, as well as parts of the Atlantic Ocean. In addition to the traffic control conducted through this equipment, FAB uses R-99 and E-99 aircraft to monitor the Brazilian airspace. The Airborne Early Warning (AEW), available on the E-99, is a technology that allows it to detect other aircraft, distinguishing, at great distances, friendly and enemy aircraft.
The use of this technology is indispensable in an air operations scenario, due to the aircraft’s flexibility in positioning and its ability to detect low altitude traffic, allowing radar coverage of the Aeronautics Command (COMAER) areas of interest, as well as aircraft control, regardless of the existing Command and Control structure on the ground.
This information is gathered in Brasilia (DF), at the Aerospace Operations Command (COMAE), which can, according to need, activate Air Defense aircraft in any region of the country. The participation of the Brazilian Air Force also involves monitoring air traffic, in order to provide information to SISDABRA members.
FAB also uses the satellite systems controlled by the COMAE, which will be reinforced by the recently launched Lessonia Project satellites, expanding the monitoring possibilities in the country, as well as supporting surveillance and border control operations.
The Amazon Surveillance System (SIVAM), for example, is composed of 27 radars located in Barcelos (AM), Belém (PA), Boa Vista (RR), Cachimbo (PA), Conceição do Araguaia (PA), Cruzeiro do Sul (AC), Eirunepé (AM), Guajará-Mirim (RO), Imperatriz (MA), Jacareacanga (PA), Macapá (AP), Manaus (AM), Manicoré (AM), Palmas (TO), Porto Esperidião (MT), Porto Velho (RO), Rio Branco (AC), Santarém (PA), São Félix do Araguaia (MT), São Félix do Xingu (PA), São Gabriel da Cachoeira (AM), São Luís (MA), Sinop (MT), Tabatinga (AM), Tefé (AM), Vilhena (RO) and Tiriós (PA).
FAB also participates in the destruction of clandestine airfields. However, this depends, first of all, on the conclusion of investigations to be carried out by the competent agencies, and it is not a unique action on the part of the Air Force Command. Thus, the interagency nature of the work in combating illicit activities in the national territory is emphasized. It is important to highlight that it is up to the National Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC) to regulate and supervise civil aviation activities and the aeronautical and airport infrastructure.
Specifically regarding the protection and suppression of illicit activities in the Amazon Region, FAB employs aircraft from the Fighter, Rotary Wing, Transport and Reconnaissance aviations. Among the aircraft used are the A-29 Super Tucano fighter jets – used, for example, for interceptions and destruction of clandestine airstrips; the H-60L Black Hawk helicopters – used to support inspection teams or security forces and also to destroy clandestine airstrips, among other missions; and the E-99 and R-99 radar aircraft, which complement the ground radar coverage.
A recent example of the intensification of actions in the Amazon region was the FAB’s participation in Ágata Amazon Joint Operation – another interagency operation – in the first half of 2022. In all, 14 aircraft from the Fighter, Rotorcraft, Transport, and Reconnaissance Aviations were used in preventive and repressive actions against crimes such as smuggling, embezzlement, and drug trafficking, as well as illegal mining and prospecting along the border.
The FAB also used the satellite systems controlled by COPE, which made it possible to monitor more than 225 thousand km² of the Amazon Rainforest, helping to locate possible illegal and environmental crimes.
The intensified actions of Ágata Amazon Joint Operation resulted in the seizure of illegal mining equipment, as well as in the detection of environmental degradation through river, land and air patrols carried out during the month of March in the triple border region between São Gabriel da Cachoeira (AM) and Tabatinga (AM).
The Operation, which also reinforced customs control and supported indigenous people and other residents of the border strip, took place in an articulated manner among military personnel from the Brazilian Navy, the Brazilian Army, and the Brazilian Air Force, carrying out preventive and repressive actions together with the Federal Police, the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA), the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio), and the Amazonas State Department of Public Safety (SSP-AM).
Photos: Lieutenant Enilton; Petty Officer Johnson; Sergeant Bianca; Corporal Silva Lopes; Corporal V. Santos / CECOMSAER
*** Translated by the DEFCONPress Team ***