ESC awards contract to help improve weather forecasting
By Patty Welsh, 66th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
/ Published June 04, 2010
HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. --
The 651st Electronic Systems Squadron here recently awarded a contract that will change how weather information is provided to combat forces.
The $21 million award to the Raytheon Company for the Joint Environmental Toolkit Increment 2 Re-vector responds to an Air Force charge to change the way combat forces receive weather data.
JET ensures that accurate, timely and relevant weather information is available to military commanders and decision makers around the world.
"The Air Force is looking to make the dissemination of weather information to the warfighter more efficient and analyses more accurate," said Capt. David Bartley, JET program manager.
The Air Force is taking heavy-duty weather forecasting out of weather flights and putting it with regionalized operational weather squadrons. Weather flights are fairly small units, usually between six and 12 personnel, while operational weather squadrons have more personnel, often with more training and experience in forecasting.
"With the new contract, there will be two main servers located at each of the nine squadrons, significantly reducing sustainment costs and logistics footprint," said Captain Bartley.
Rather than servers, each of the 181 weather flight sites will have a Sensor Collection Appliance, which will collect weather data that will automatically be funneled back to the main server sites through Web-enabled capabilities for analyses and dissemination. The information also will be provided automatically to air traffic control facilities in the area.
"Weather flights will be able to reach back to the squadrons and get meteorological information," said Warren Humphrey, Oasis Systems support contractor, "and then they will be able to take that forecast and apply it to the combat mission."
The contract includes two separate builds, an A and a B.
"For build A, which includes the regionalization, the SCA implementation and standing up an Enterprise Web Consortium, the goal is to have a developmental design in place by March 2011, testing throughout the rest of the year and fielding by December 2011," said Captain Bartley.
As the contract also includes software and hardware upgrades, build B is to improve upon all JET's basic functions and capabilities.
"One feature that will be forthcoming in Increment 2 is Integrated Geospatial Display," said Mr. Humphrey. "This will allow forecasters to display multiple layers, one on top of another."
Operations users will eventually be able to access the program, put their mission data in and then access the weather information, or other geospatial information, and combine it to see a more relevant picture.
This increment upgrade will be a great advantage for not only the weather professionals but also the warfighters who use this information to execute their missions, said Captain Bartley.