HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – A Weather Engineering Facility opening Sept. 5 will give engineers the ability to test and improve nine weather systems used on military installations throughout the world.
The WEF, resembling rows of increasingly complex antennae and radar domes, gives Hanscom’s weather engineers a chance to examine multiple types of weather sensing and forecasting systems. The systems are capable of detecting lightning strikes, winds, storms, incoming pressure systems and other meteorological phenomena.
“Right here, we have three generations of fixed weather systems,” said Capt. Brian Wolff, chief engineer of weather radar systems at Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Battle Management directorate, who is responsible for weather system development, testing and fielding. “Two are in sustainment and one, the FMQ-23, is still being fielded. That means we can walk out here and see if lessons learned maintaining one system can be applied to another, or if there are common mistakes we can avoid when working on deployed systems.”
The facility cost $1.9 million, but the systems in it represent more than $350 million in weather systems deployed throughout the world. Hanscom provides life cycle support to more than 560 individual forecasting units.
WEF construction began January 2016, and concluded August 15 when a team of Airmen, civilians and contractors installed a deployed doppler radar, the final system.
“Accurate weather knowledge and good forecasts are critical for every single military operation,” said 2nd Lt. Matthew Lewis, lead engineer for the WEF. “This facility helps us keep the equipment generating those forecasts functioning, which helps with every weather-dependent mission.”