Outlook sunny on Iraqi weather

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Levi Riendeau
  • 321st Air Expeditionary Wing
The Iraqi Air Force took one more step toward self-sufficiency with the recent acquisition of a European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellite, or EUMETSAT, weather data reception and visualization system.

The new system was installed this month at the Iraqi Air Operations Center in Baghdad Iraq. Training on the new system is being conducted by IPS MeteoStar, the contractor who sold the equipment.

The receiver pulls weather data from EUMETSAT into the computer systems installed by IPS MeteoStar. There it allows the Iraqi weather officers to manipulate the data to generate weather maps for use in various products, from flight briefings to local weather forecasts.

"This system provides real-time aviation weather information as the basis for decision support for all meteorological support activities spanning Iraq. The Iraqi Air Force weather officers will have the tool set they need to integrate important operational weather decision-making products directly into existing and future Iraqi weather systems," said Maj. James Bono, Iraqi Training and Advisory Missions senior weather advisor deployed from Sagamore Hill Solar Observatory a geographically separate unit of Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass.

The purchase is part of an ongoing plan to provide the Iraqi Air Force airmen with the tools and skills to run their own weather forecast center.

"Right now they're relying on our data," explained Major Bono

With more training from U.S. Air Force Airmen, Major Bono said the Iraqis should be self-sufficient with their own equipment.

"They will support their own mission, their own aircraft, and provide protection for their airfields," he said.

The process started last October with the purchase of four Ellason Weather Radar 600's.
The first of these radars was installed at the Baghdad Iraqi Air Operations Center where the Iraqis have been training on system ever since.

"It's the first Iraqi weather radar system in the country," said Major Bono, "It gives them the ability to track and observe rain showers and thunderstorms."

But the Ellason Weather Radar 600 isn't the only system to provide real-time weather data.

The Iraqi Air Force currently uses a TMQ-53 Weather Observation System on loan from the U.S. Air Force, but recently purchased eight new units to be set up throughout Iraq. Once the new systems are in place, the only thing missing for the Iraqis to run their own weather operation will be training.

That's where Tech. Sgt. Stephen Hale of the 22nd Expeditionary Weather Squadron advising weather trainer for Iraqi air operations comes in.

The 16-year Air Force veteran from Fort Riley, Kan. makes sure Iraqi officers receive the training they need to run their own operations.

"Their meteorology background is different from ours," he said. "Over these last five months we've tried to bridge the gap from the training they've received previously to what the capabilities are on the U.S side."

Once the Iraqis are trained, Sergeant Hale will work with his Iraqi partners to ensure they can produce all the weather products they need for their mission.

"This is a whole new side for me getting to teach meteorology," he said. "I get to teach these young Iraqi weather officers to integrate the information they have into planning and executing missions," says Sergeant Hale, "It takes it to a whole new level when you're helping a department stand up from nothing."