Bagram manages weather radar system for wide part of Afghanistan

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Cierra Presentado
  • 455th AEW Public Affairs

The weather flight here holds the responsibility of managing the only weather radar system that impacts a wide swath of the rugged country of Afghanistan, impacting operations from Bagram to Kabul to Jalalabad.

Having the responsibility of managing the region’s weather radar, the 455th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron weather flight’s mission here is crucial. They protect all assets on Bagram by providing the weather forecast that will impact daily missions for personnel on the base, as well as aircraft coming in and out of the airfield.

“Every hour we take observations to make sure we’re getting current weather readings to provide to the base populace,” said Tech Sgt. Andrea Gray, 455th EOSS weather flight chief. “What we provide can greatly effect operations and missions so we’re careful to provide accurate information from our system.”

For typical base operations, the flight will report weather readings that are within five nautical miles of the base. This includes warnings for lightning, dust storms, snow and heavy rain. The weather radar is able to reach readings more than five times that distance, and is able to get a better detection of storm types that can impact aircraft movement.

“If we get a reading that may affect the base, two hours prior we channel it out to different agencies like command post and the air traffic control tower so they can alert personnel,” said Senior Airman Amanda Block, 455th EOSS weather technician. “We’re also able to keep communication with aircraft pilots to provide them with on the spot readings.”

The flight has manned the country’s only radar, until Kandahar receives a second one, for the past six months. Every six months, a new radar is ordered and replaces the old one to avoid technical mishaps. Upon receiving the new system, the old one is sent back to its originating company. Using this process ensures Bagram is never without radar coverage.

“We have a radar here at all times and we physically check it 24/7 to ensure nothing happens to it. With this being the only radar in this part of Afghanistan, it’s important that we take good care of it,” Gray said. “It plays a big part in the mission here.”

In the event something happens to the radar, the Weather Systems Support Cadre at Al Udied Air Base, Qatar, forward deploys here and assists with technical support.

The weather systems radar will remain here until the last aircraft leaves Bagram.

“With Bagram scheduled to draw down, we will continue to provide weather forecast for the base as well as the other nearby forward operating bases,” Gray said. “The radar will prove successful in continuing to support the base and its mission and operations.”