Weather Wing provides solution to Guardians

  • Published
  • By David R. Hopper
  • 557th Weather Wing Public Affairs

Airmen from the 2d Combat Weather Systems Squadron traveled to Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida, Jan. 17 – 21 to install a Portable Doppler Radar or PDR weather system to assist Guardians with space launch operations.

The PDR was installed to prevent a gap in environmental data coverage while the 45th Weather Squadron’s WSR-88D Radar is down for planned maintenance.

“Our team of Airmen collaborated with the 45th Weather Squadron to determine viable options to meet their environmental intelligence requirements,” said Lt. Col. Gary Charney, 2d CWSS commander. “In the planning process, ‘The Herd’ assisted in working through communication requirements, site selection and PDR capabilities based on our experiences with Information Warfare Weapons and Tactics Conference and Weather Systems Support Cadre deployments to U.S. Central Command and U.S. Africa Command.”

During emplacement, 2d CWSS Airmen led the proper setup of the equipment, continued to work through communication issues, and trained the Guardians for basic user-level maintenance.

“The 2d CWSS Airmen were amazing,” said Col. Jason King, 45th WS commander. “It was obvious upon their arrival; they were well trained and experts on the PDR and how to connect it to our one-of-a-kind network.”

The PDR will provide the 45th WS with timely radar data for a temporary period, while contractors disassemble their old weather surveillance radar and install a new and improved version specifically designed for the squadron’s unique requirements.

“Our forecasters and launch weather officers will utilize the radar data while supporting all NASA, State Department, Defense Department sea, air, ground, and space operations (launches and landings) here on the eastern range,” King said.

The current operations for 2d CWSS Airmen have expanded from solving and maintaining environmental sensing strategies in USAFRICOM and USCENTCOM to sensitive space launch operations. The physical environment can be just as much of a threat as a near peer adversary. The more environmental intelligence they gather, the better they can drive down risk to the force and mission.

“The PDR installation at Cape Canaveral is a fantastic demonstration of the 2d Combat Weather Systems Squadron’s ability to provide deployed or in-place support to DoD and civil authorities, as tasked, providing specialized environmental sensing assessments and solutions as part of the Joint Intelligence Preparation of the Operational Environment” said Col. Michael Marsicek, 2d Weather Group commander. “The PDR installation supporting 45th Weather Squadron is really a continuation of a long and storied history between Air Force Weather and U.S. space launch operations.”

This is not the first instance where 2d CWSS was called upon to provide their expertise. In July 2021, Airmen from “The Herd” traveled to Anderson Air Force Base, Guam, when the 36th Operational Support Squadron’s only Next Generation Weather Radar broke down.

“Over the last two decades, The Herd has garnered a wealth of knowledge emplacing PDRs in unique environments and connecting to various communication networks throughout USCENTCOM and USAFRICOM theaters,” Charney said. “A significant takeaway from the PDR installation at the Cape is that The Herd was able to capitalize on their experience and work through new problem sets with the same equipment. Empowered, multi-capable Airmen understood the requirement and commander’s intent and innovated solutions with an aged PDR fleet.”

The Airmen from the 2d CWSS stand ready to assist the joint team through employment of Environmental Collection Teams that can conduct environmental data collection for resource protection, as well as operational test and planning in permissive, semi-permissive environments. Their expertise can be leveraged to aid development of environmental sensing strategies, to include operational and technical support by leveraging their system and meteorological expertise. The ECTs can deploy rapidly with weather sensing equipment (to include Portable Doppler Radar, TMOS, micro weather sensor) to accurately assess the environment and disseminate data (via organic communications, satellite communications, or limited data through tactical comms in degraded environments).

“The men and women of the 2d CWSS demonstrate what it means to truly be multi-capable Airmen,” Marsicek said. “These dedicated professionals combine weather, RAWS and cyber operators together to present a unique capability to the combatant commands that span environmental collection operations to maintaining deployed weather systems.  They also perform our operational test mission, ensuring that when a system is deployed it meets the needs of our Airmen performing the mission in harm’s way.  While taking on these critical missions, they also capture tactics, techniques and procedures for Air Combat Command to make available for weather operations worldwide.” 

“I am proud of the 2d CWSS team and their selfless contributions to the DoD’s varied missions,” Marsicek added.