Weather Airmen focused on F-35, F-22 future support

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Steve Stanley
  • Headquarters, Air Combat Command Public Affairs
Weather Airmen from across Air Combat Command converged on Langley Air Force Base, Virginia for the 2016 ACC Weather Conference Mar. 8 - 11, 2016. 

Attendees discussed building weather support for 5th generation aircraft, educating the force on readiness issues, highlighting remote aircraft and Joint support areas, and developing shared understanding of the way ahead for ACC weather operations.

"This is kind of a monumental event," said Gen. Hawk Carlisle, commander of Air Combat Command. "This is the first time we've done this since the 557th Weather Wing stood up and moved into a war fighting mentality."

Although this event used to be held yearly, this is the first time in five years the conference has taken place and included 120 participants, consisting mostly of unit-level flight leaders from 55 ACC Weather units.

The once-annual forum provided unique opportunities for weather support units at each warfighting echelon to showcase initiatives and methods for exploiting current technologies and is designed to spur innovation.

"The most important message of this year's conference has been a conversation in ACC about "5th-generation weather," said Col. David Bacot, ACC's Chief of Weather Operations Division. "It essentially comes down to a mindset. It is not a tool, it is how you think and how you operate. This extends from our ability to support manned and remotely-piloted aircraft, to the impact of weather on weapon and ISR sensors, to a constant vigilance on the sun's impact on our space and communications infrastructure."

Today, 5th-Gen weather personnel use critical thinking and adaptive behavior to ensure accuracy and relevant information, whenever and wherever it is required.

"It means that you understand the full spectrum of what weather support is and the full spectrum of the mission you're supporting and understand how to translate what weather's impact is to each aspect of that mission."

There are major changes taking place brought on by the standup of the 557 Weather Wing and the introduction of a new global forecast model. 

"We have built a synergy unlike any in the recent past, with the 557th Weather Wing joining the Army weather support squadrons and operational support squadrons weather flights under ACC," Bacot said. "Now the lead command for weather, our units truly set the path, turning data into information driving decisions, often in the combat environment."

At the direction of the Air Force Director of Weather, Ralph Stoffler, and in conjunction with Air Force Materiel Command, the 557 WW has fielded a new Global Air-Land Weather Exploitation Model that allows improved support to coalition and joint operations from humanitarian relief to full spectrum combat, anywhere in the world.

"Even as we optimize weather support for today's operations, we still keep an eye on the future," Bacot said. "Integration is what will actually drive our success for the 5th-generation." 

The conference concluded at the end of the week and plans are in motion to once again make it an annual event.