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SIVAM: Communication, Navigation and Surveillance for the Amazon

By David Jensen | June 1, 2002
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There’s never been a program like it, says Gregory Vuksich, president of Raytheon Brasil Sistemas de Integracao Ltda. And there may well never be one like it again. Such is the case with SIVAM, a Portuguese acronym meaning system for vigilance of the Amazon region. This civil project (with some law enforcement applications) was launched 10 years ago to establish a comprehensive network of surveillance radars, environmental sensors, communications systems, an air traffic control center, and coordination centers scattered throughout a region like no other: Brazil’s vast Amazon.

The SIVAM infrastructure is expected to be operational soon, and activities surrounding the project are quickening in pace. "The project’s status changes almost daily," says Paul Ferraro, Raytheon Command, Control, Communication and Information Systems’ (C3I) technical director for the SIVAM project. Raytheon is one of three prime contractors selected by the Brazilian government; the other two are ATECH and Embraer, both Brazilian companies. Raytheon supplies most of the system equipment. For example, it manufactures the radar and the flight inspection aircraft, and it is integrating the equipment for SIVAM.

"The hardware development and manufacturing of all equipment is 99 percent complete, and initial operational capability is expected to begin this summer," says Ferraro. SIVAM systems are to be fully operational by the first quarter of 2003, according to Brazilian Air Force Col. Paullo Esteves, public affairs officer for SIVAM. "The environmental [control] part of the package has delayed the project by about six months because of the software development and because of the difficulty of facilities construction in the region. We’ve had a lot of rain," he adds.

SIVAM includes air traffic service capabilities, but it provides much more. It also was established for drug interdiction, Indian reservation protection, health control, regional development and environmental control of the Brazilian Amazon, covering 2 million square miles (5.2 million square km) and including the world’s largest rain forest. The Amazon is home to 30 percent of the Earth’s known plant and animal species and 20 percent of the world’s fresh water.

The Brazilian government’s strategy to save this world treasure is called SIPAM, or system for the protection of the Amazon, and its plan to monitor air traffic in the Amazon region is managed by CISCEA (commission for the implementation of airspace control). SIVAM will provide the infrastructure for both initiatives.

The Brazilian government announced the SIVAM project in 1992 at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro. Two years later the country approved financing for SIVAM, which totals $1.39 billion, including more than $1 billion from the U.S. Export-Import Bank. Letters of credit were issued and the contract for SIVAM development and installation became effective in 1997.

What is SIVAM? "In brief, SIVAM is a suite of sensors that provides data, which goes to three regional operations centers, one national operations center and an air surveillance center, all of which are networked together," says James Carter, a Raytheon vice president and general manager. As the company’s former manager of SIVAM, Carter keeps close tabs on the project.

The data SIVAM generates comes from ground-based, airborne and satellite sensors. "How that data is used depends on the various agencies within the Brazilian government," says Ferraro. For Brazilian air traffic services, SIVAM monitors airspace over a vast area that air transport traffic has largely avoided because the Amazon region has lacked communication and surveillance capabilities.

The backbone of SIVAM’s infrastructure comprises three regional surveillance centers–in Manaus, Porto Velho and Belem–and a general coordination center in Brasilia. All centers are to have workstations and servers to process incoming data from satellites, specially equipped aircraft, and ground sensors. The region’s environmental data is delivered to the centers (and exchanged among the centers) via a Hughes Network Systems geostationary satellite, located above the equator. The transponder dedicated to SIVAM is in the satellite and operational, according to Ferraro. The data derives from an initial array of 424 small aperture terminals, also produced by Hughes. (The Brazilian government plans to procure more than 900 terminals.) The terminal sites, which have satellite dish antennas attached, allow personal computer (PC), telephone and fax access to the four centers.

In addition to transmitting data, "authorized users at the terminals can access a ‘catalog’ of information products," says Ed Geisler, Raytheon’s center and aircraft program manager for SIVAM. "For example, a user can request a deforestation map on a tape or CD-ROM." The catalog is a repository of products existing at the data centers.

The four centers will receive and archive a steady stream of data to create the information products from SIVAM sensors and existing, multisensor, earth observation satellites. As part of the SIVAM contract, Raytheon provided the satellite ground stations under an upgrade program for INPE (the Brazilian institute for space research).

The earth observation satellites include the Landsat 7, SPOT 4, Radarsat, and ERS-1 and -2. Data comes, as well, from three additional satellites: GOES, a weather satellite accompanied by three ground stations; TIROS, a polar orbiting satellite that provides weather and atmospheric data and includes a ground station in Manaus; and SCD-1, a Brazilian satellite that acquires data from ground stations, such as water levels and rainfall. Information from these satellites largely serves to monitor the Amazon’s rain forest environment, but it also can be accessed by the region’s air traffic control.

Originally, three centers for air surveillance were to be collocated with the regional, environmental surveillance centers. They were to correspond with the three flight information regions (FIRs) in northern Brazil. But the Brazilian government decided to consolidate the en-route airspace control function in Manaus. "Because of the telecommunications network, we found we didn’t need three centers," says Esteves. The Manaus center houses 16 controller workstations: six covering the Manaus region, six for the Belem region and four for the Porto Velho region.

Twenty-five ground radar sites are linked to the Manaus center by a Comtech/Alcatel satcom system. Five sites that have Thomson CSF radars–installed in 1994–will be integrated into the SIVAM network. In addition, Raytheon is supplying seven ASR-23 solid state, L-band, two-dimensional (azimuth and range) primary radars with integrated monopulse secondary radar, and seven stand-alone Condor Mk 2 monopulse secondary radars. And Lockheed Martin, under contract to Raytheon, is providing six portable TPS-B34 transportable three-dimensional (elevation, range and azimuth) primary/secondary radars, which can be transported in two C-130s.

"If, say, a concentration of drug traffic is detected in an area, the Brazilian government can transport the [TPS-B34] radars," says Carter, explaining the need for radar transportability. They are 3D-capable to monitor aircraft that are not equipped with transponders. "We have acceptance tests in process at several of the fixed [ASR-23 and Condor Mk 2] radar sites." Ferraro reported in late April.

The radar sites, along with five additional sites, also serve as telecommunications centers, incorporating both VHF and UHF transceivers. The Raytheon VHF digital radios provide voice-only, and the Rohde and Schwarz UHF/VHF radios can transmit voice and/or data. They all transmit to Manaus via Comtech/Alcatel satcom. The UHF radios provide a data link between SIVAM’s ground and airborne assets. In addition, three HF stations are positioned near the three regional centers. Installations at SIVAM’s telecommunications centers are "ongoing," according to Ferraro.

The Manaus air surveillance center is being equipped with a "blended" ATC system, to make the center’s addition to Brazil’s air traffic control as seamless as possible, says Geisler. Raytheon is providing the hardware and the radar data processing, which has been blended with operator interface software designed by ATECH. "We’ve had ATECH people working with us in Marlborough [Mass., Raytheon C3I headquarters] to create this unique software package, specifically for SIVAM."

The Manaus center also will have Litton Denro voice switching systems. Like other ATC facilities, the Manaus center and radar sites are controlled by the country’s air force.

Four ILS systems are to be installed at airports in Boa Vista, Porto Velho, Cuibaba and Santarem. Installations at the first three airports are "in process," according to Esteves. "Santarem will be last to receive ILS."

Increased flight activity and the Amazon region’s tropical weather necessitate the ILS, says Esteves. These also are reasons why SIVAM includes the installation of 10 weather radar stations, the first of which was delivered by Enterprise Electronics Corp. in mid-April. The Enterprise, Ala.-based company is scheduled to deliver the second Doppler weather radar this month (June) and then one during each succeeding month, according to Col. Carlos Aquino, who is operations director for the Brazilian government’s SIVAM program office.

Accompanying the air surveillance center and navigation and communications equipment in the Amazon region are four flight inspection aircraft, Hawker 800XPs that were outfitted in Raytheon Aircraft’s Wichita, Kan.-facility to be "calibrated test beds" for ground-based radar, navaids and landing systems, according to Carter. The Hawkers were delivered in 2000 and have been used for systems certification.

Other aircraft serve the SIVAM project, as well. Embraer is installing the Ericsson Erieye airborne surveillance radar on five EMB 145s. Their primary mission is to track down aircraft that fly below ATC radar detection to engage in illegal activity. Using phased array technology, Erieye was developed for the airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) mission. It includes a long, board-like antenna that is mounted parallel atop the aircraft fuselage. The antenna is fixed and its 1-degree pencil beam is electronically scanned. Aquino reports that the first surveillance aircraft was to be delivered in May 2002, and all five aircraft are to be in Brazilian hands by March 2003.

Embraer also is outfitting three remote sensing aircraft–also EMB 145s–for environmental monitoring and to seek out illegal activity in the Amazon, for example, by small boats and ground vehicles. They are being outfitted with mission equipment supplied by Raytheon, including an infrared sensor and multispectral scanner (MSS), as well as a MacDonald Dettwiler synthetic aperture radar, which detects radiation. First delivery of these remote sensing aircraft is scheduled for this month.

For their environmental control role, the remote sensing aircraft will have onboard processors that will combine the sensor data to form imagery of land usage, according to Carter. The system will be accompanied by a ground station in Brasilia, which also creates graphical imagery.

In both the remote sensing aircraft and surveillance aircraft, Raytheon is integrating communications and non-communications signal monitoring (com/non-com). Working in tandem with monitoring equipment at the three surveillance centers, the com/non-com-equipped aircraft can detect a wide variety of signals and, through processing, determine which ones are being emitted by "a bad guy," Ferraro explains.

SIVAM is a large, complex project, but it has a big job to do. Its many tasks are to assure Brazil’s sovereignty over the Amazon region, an asset to the world.

SIVAM Assets


  • 7 ASR-23ss Primary/Monopulse Secondary Radars

  • 7 Condor Mk 2 Secondary Radars

  • 6 Transportable TPS-B34 Primary/Secondary Radars

  • 5 Embraer EMB 145-based Surveillance Aircraft

  • 3 Embraer EMB 145-based Remote Sensing Aircraft

  • 10 Weather Radars

  • 295 Sensors: Weather (81), Lightning (14) and Hydrologic (200)

  • 5 Satellite Imagery Receivers

  • 4 Instrument Landing Systems

  • 3 HF Direction Finding Systems


  • 424 Very Small Aperture Satellite Ground Terminals

  • 26 Satellite Trunking Terminals

  • 5 SATCOM Hub Stations

  • 32 Ground-to-Air Radio Stations (224 Radios)

  • 21 Remote Telecommunications Switching Stations

  • 1,028 Data Access Terminals


  • 1 En-Route ATC Center

  • 3 Regional Coordination Centers

  • 1 General Coordination Center


  • 4 Hawker 800XP-based Flight Inspection Aircraft

SIVAM Missions

  • Environmental protection

  • Control of land occupation and use

  • Economical and ecological zoning

  • Mapping

  • Prevention and control of epidemics

  • Protection of indigenous populations

  • Border surveillance and control

  • Monitoring river navigation

  • Monitoring forest fires

  • Law enforcement

  • Air traffic control and surveillance for both cooperative and non-cooperative aircraft

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