Delivering weather forecasts, faster

  • Published
  • By Staff Report
  • Joint Expeditionary Force Experiment Weather Team 2006
Net-Centric Weather Integration was one of the many important initiatives being tested during the Joint Expeditionary Force Experiment 2006 at Nellis AFB, Nev. Sponsored by the Air Force Weather Agency, NCWI demonstrates the capability to provide critical, time- sensitive weather information to Combined Air and Space Operations Center users.

In 2004, AFWA introduced the Joint Weather Impacts System into the CAOC environment. JWIS is a forward-staged weather database that allows for machine-to-machine transfer of critical weather information.

"NCWI is an extension of our JEFX 04 initiative, interfacing with the Web-Enabled Execution Management Capability application for Time Sensitive Targeting coordination and Tactical Targeting Network Technology for providing real-time weather information to the cockpit," said Mr. James Reardon, Plans and Programs for JEFX.

"In the past, weather within the CAOC was provided through stovepipe processes which meant weather information was not fully integrated into CAOC Command and Control applications," said Maj. Dean Carter, Senior Weather Officer for JEFX 06.

"Weather information had to be passed to warfighters via Power Point briefings or word of mouth. Now with NCWI, weather is fully integrated into CAOC processes and provides "heads-up" weather information for operators to incorporate into quick decision making."

According to Major Carter, who was deployed to the CENTCOM CAOC for six months in early 2003 supporting operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, weather information is critical to fighting an air war. Leadership within all divisions of the CAOC, from strategy to execution, requires weather information.

"If we don't use the weather to our advantage, the enemy will," he said.

"During Air Tasking Order execution, instant weather information is vital because targeting decisions happen fast," Major Carter said. "Warfighters need access to instant information; they cannot wait to get verbal briefs from the weather support team," he said.

Web-Enabled Execution Management Capability is a CAOC collaboration application that allows the entire CAOC floor to coordinate time sensitive targeting and combat search and rescue missions. Prior to JEFX 06, weather coordination was accomplished via manual processes. With NCWI, weather is instantly made available. "It's important to make weather information accessible to the warfighter as fast as possible," Mr. Reardon said. "NCWI gets the weather to the decision makers in seconds, making it a factor in the TST process."

"In addition to the CAOC, we now have the capability to provide instant weather updates to aircrews flying over the battlefield through the Tactical Targeting Network Technology capability," according to Mr. Reardon. This information becomes critical in supporting safety of flight operations.

JEFX is an Air Force Chief of Staff-directed series of experiments that combines live, virtual and constructive air, space, naval and ground force simulations, and technology insertion into a near-seamless joint and coalition warfighting environment. This highly focused, multinational, multi-service experiment rigorously assess and makes recommendations on selected capabilities that fill identified gaps or produce desired effects in the battlespace.

The CAOC is the experiment's environment, designed to execute the air and space component of a war, combining operators and systems from all different air assets and coalition forces to make one integrated system. The goals of this experiment are to better integrate CAOC processes, expand the use of data links and extend networks to link the operational and tactical levels of execution.