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  • ACC Airmen performing space mission in Australia celebrate 40 years

    The Learmonth Solar Observatory celebrated its 40th anniversary April 27, 2019, at Learmonth, Western Australia, giving solar immersion briefings at the facility and holding a partnership barbecue. The observatory is operated jointly by 2nd Weather Squadron’s Detachment 1 and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology’s Space Weather Services. “Learmonth Solar Observatory is one of the few places that I’ve heard of whose continuing mission has not really changed in 40 years,” said Master Sgt. Cassandra Denton, Detachment 1 NCO in charge of Solar Electro-Optical Network maintenance. “Major commands changed, but the day-to-day mission of being Sun Spies has not.” Learmonth is one of five solar observatories around the world maintained by the 2nd WS. With locations at Learmonth, Australia; San Vito, Italy; Hamilton, Massachusetts, Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico and Kaena Point, Hawaii; each observatory is positioned to keep the sun in view as the Earth turns. Their collective mission is to provide timely space situational awareness by observing and reporting space weather phenomena as well as its relevance to communications and other Defense Department space-based and Earth-based missions.
  • Holloman Solar Observatory

    Editor’s note: This is the first in a four part series of articles on the solar observatory. Just as local weather flights provide the base command post notifications and alerts of heat stress, thunderstorms, or high winds, the Holloman Air Force Base Solar Observatory has provided Department of Defense agencies similar notifications. Holloman is
  • 2nd WXG innovations: Task Force Bat Phone delivers data Airmen need

    This is the second part of a series highlighting innovations by the 557th Weather Wing’s 2nd Weather Group. Using off-the-shelf components, new processes and a little inspiration from Batman, a group of innovative Airmen from the 557th Weather Wing’s 2nd Weather Group are changing how information is transmitted in the field. Exercise Adaptive Lightning’s Task Force Bat Phone is designed to provide data capabilities for on-the-move and first-in situations – the first 72 hours after establishing a new operating location. “Even in the best scenario, such as setting up for a field exercise, there's always a lag between the start of the setup and the establishment of a secure data link,” said Tech. Sgt. Matt Mattern, 16th Weather Squadron NCO in charge of model operations. The Bat Phone leverages existing military radio communication and computer equipment to transmit information without using a formal communications link. Custom-built software retrieves data from Air Force Weather Web Services – known as AFW-WEBS – and packages it for delivery to deployed users in the field using a laptop.
  • 2nd WXG Innovations: 14th WS releases new climate go kit

    This is the first of a series highlighting innovations by the 557th Weather Wing’s 2nd Weather Group. After only six months of in-house development, the 2nd WXG’s 14th Weather Squadron in Asheville, North Carolina, introduced their Climate Go-Kit, a new tool for weather forecasters to prepare for operations in Contested, Degraded or Operationally-limited, known as CDO, environments. The go-kit’s development aligns with three Air Force priorities: to drive innovation, restore readiness and cost-effectively modernize. “Go-kits provide climate information about a country directly to the warfighter,” said Master Sgt. Kenneth Elwood, 14th WS systems flight chief. “Users can use the information to help familiarize themselves with the country’s climate; answer planning and general climate type questions; and develop forecasts, to name just a few.” The 14th WS is the Air Force’s only climate operations unit, co-located with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information. The 14th WS collects, protects and exploits authoritative climate data to optimize military and intelligence operations and planning worldwide.
  • 557th WW joins 55th WG for Winter Havoc

    The 557th Weather Wing joined the 55th Wing, Offutt Air Force Base’s host wing, for the Operational Readiness Exercise Winter Havoc. Twenty-one Airmen from the 2nd Systems Operations Squadron, 2nd Weather Squadron and 16th Weather Squadron joined approximately 600 other Offutt AFB Airmen for the late January exercise, marking the first time the wing has partnered with the 55th WG for a mass readiness exercise since the 557th WW’s creation in 2015. “The 557 WW demonstrated its capability to deliver ready weather and cyber forces in support of multi-domain operations against any adversary across the entire spectrum of conflict,” said Lt Col. Kenneth Roberts, 2nd Weather Support Squadron commander and 557th WW Crisis Action Team representative for the exercise. This first phase of the exercise focused on pre-deployment preparations, getting Airmen ready to deploy and moving cargo. Phase two will continue in the spring.
  • 2 WS shares Halloween down under

    On Halloween, nearly 430 people from Exmouth – a town of about 2,000 located on Western Australia’s Northwest coast – visited a haunted house built by Airmen from 2nd Weather Squadron’s Detachment 1. The popularity of the detachment’s haunted house is underscored by the fact that Australia isn’t known for celebrating Halloween, however, its popularity has been on the rise in recent years.
  • Cyber Airmen “fuel” innovation

    Cyber Airmen assigned to the 557th Weather Wing recently teamed together with the Defense Innovation Unit program making changes to how airborne tankers are scheduled. The changes are the direct result of a March 8, 2018, memo from Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, where he stated, “bringing the future faster requires both expanding our culture of innovation and balancing prudent risk acceptance with agile reaction.” That is the goal of the Defense Innovation Unit where members of the military partner with companies that specialize in fields such as artificial intelligence and information technology, to find new solutions to complex problems.
  • Hardening the 557th WW’s cyber defenses

    In order to deliver timely, accurate, and relevant weather information in support of military operations in the air, on land, at sea, or in space, the 557th Weather Wing must work in and through cyberspace — without cyber readiness the weather mission fails. From maintaining the Air Force’s $322 million strategic weather computing complex to managing the flow of weather data to defending against cyber adversaries, about 20 percent of the wing’s Airmen are assigned to cyber roles. Like in the other war fighting domains, there is no guarantee of U.S. dominance in cyberspace. In fact, the 2018 National Defense Strategy calls out cyberspace as a contested domain. Because of this, the 557th WW is taking steps to protect and harden its cyber infrastructure, a tall order considering the complexity of the systems and data streams involved.
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