Team completes 181-site weather system fielding effort

  • Published
  • By Patty Welsh
  • 66th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Everyone has heard the old saying, "You can't change the weather." However, being able to predict weather conditions is a necessity for warfighters.

The now-completed fielding of the Joint Environmental Toolkit (JET), Increment 1, to 181 sites by the 651st Electronic Systems Squadron will ensure accurate, timely and relevant weather information is available to military commanders and decision makers around the world.

"Air Force Weather supports both the Army and Air Force and any time an Airman or a Soldier goes to battle, they need to know what the weather is going to be. JET is able to provide that information with cutting-edge capabilities," said Capt. Connor Benedict, JET deputy program manager.

JET is designed to merge and/or sustain current weather collection, analysis and dissemination capabilities. The Increment 1 fielding puts the hardware in place, along with the initial software release. Because JET uses service oriented architecture, the information is accessible via a web network.

For the weather units that received JET, as it replaces several legacy systems, it reduces their equipment footprint and training requirements. It also helps save money by reducing maintenance and sustainment costs for the future.

Completion of the fielding schedule was no simple task.

"The decision to field was made in July 2008, with a task to complete fielding by September 2009," said Captain Benedict. "However, due to the constantly changing cyber environment, there were a lot of modifications that had to occur along the way. The team did a phenomenal job adapting."

The fielding team consisted of: David Lamoreaux, Derek Lung, Bruce Shapiro, Andrew Voshell and David Wojcicki.

"The team's knowledge was instrumental in getting the fielding completed," said Captain Benedict. "And the background of someone like Mr. Shapiro, who is a retired Air Force weather officer, was critical to the program's success."

The original schedule called for three to five days to install JET at a site. Because of the ongoing variables within the cyber community, it was taking three weeks to do an installation, often with several trips out to a site.

"Each site was different and posed unique challenges for the team," said Captain Benedict. "In addition to active duty sites, we did installations at reserve and guard bases. Each local community has its own set of rules, often based off Air Force Instructions, which during the timeframe had become obsolete."

The team partnered with the Air Force Weather Agency and, together, worked tirelessly with more than 15 different agencies -- including: Air Force and Army communications and security organizations; the JET contractor, Raytheon; and the 38th Cyberspace Engineering Group -- to ensure the fielding schedule would stay on track.

"It was tough to try and get the installations back down to three to five days. However, due to the team's great effort and their ability to work within a constantly changing environment, we met our September 30 completion date," said Captain Benedict.

During the fielding, the team was also able to gather ideas from users to identify improvements. They took those ideas to the Air Force Weather Agency, and due to adjustments being made to requirements, $2 million was saved.

"The JET is crucial in replacing several costly and outdated legacy systems," said Captain Benedict. "We wanted to ensure this capability got out there and installed so we can continue to provide first-class support to the warfighter."

Due to the fluid conditions in the cyber environment, subsequent service packs for the software will be provided to upgrade the system.