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Weather Airmen keep mission moving

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Chad Warren
  • 380th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

For most people deployed in the desert, the only concern with the weather is how uncomfortably hot it’s going to be when the work day starts. But changes in the weather play a huge role in how several missions around base are conducted, and without accurate forecasts and environmental intelligence, operators can’t safely deliver bombs on targets.

Airmen with the 380th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron weather flight monitor regional weather forecasts 24/7 to construct an accurate model of weather patterns in the U.S. Air Forces Central Command area of responsibility, not only focusing on temperature, but winds, visibility, precipitation and any environmental factors that could impact the mission.

“We provide timely, accurate, and relevant weather forecasts for all commanders across the base to make informed decisions to better accomplish the mission,” said Staff Sgt. Andrew, 380 EOSS weather flight. “We inject environmental intelligence to enhance all aspects of life here.”

The temperature is one aspect that plays an important role in day-to-day operations, not just for the flying squadrons. Extreme heat can be a limiting factor for personnel, especially for individuals working outside who must follow a work-rest cycle determined by the heat. Additionally, the high temperatures place additional stress on aircraft and base infrastructure. Recently, the 380th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron mitigated a potential power shutdown due to the high temperatures placing additional stress on the base power grid – an accomplishment that would not have been possible without accurate forecast information from the weather flight.

With the dynamic mission here however, the weather flight doesn’t stop at the perimeter of the base.

 “Since our mission is broad, we're not just concentrating on the local weather,” Anthony said. “We're forecasting and watching weather for the entire AOR as missions are going on.”

According to Anthony, the stakes are high when forecasting weather for combat operations.

“Consequences can range from loss of life, to having to reschedule a mission due to an inaccurate forecast,” said Staff Sgt. Andrew, 380 EOSS weather flight. “For instance, ISR not being able to retrieve photos due to overcast skies not forecasted, or refuelers not being able to get fuel to the fight because of turbulence or thunderstorms. Each airframe has very specific weather limiting criteria.”

For the core mission here, putting bombs on target, the forecasts are crucial.

"Weather is incredibly important to a combat aviator," said Maj. John, of the 335th Expeditionary Fight Squadron. "If you ever try lasing a bomb into a target with gusting winds, you'll find out pretty quickly how important an accurate wind model is. We wouldn't be nearly as successful without our weather team."

The small team of weather Airmen not only plays an integral part in making the flying mission possible, but also has a hand in making life as comfortable as possible for everyone on base, on and off duty.