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  • 2nd CWSS narrows Air Force Weather’s first-in communications gap

    Members from Air Force Weather and Special Operations communities gathered at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, Feb. 20, to test a first-in communications capability with potential for the global Air Force mission. Joint Special Operations Command, 2nd Combat Weather Systems Squadron, 18th Weather Squadron and 16th Weather Squadron verified the ability of Defense Department satellite communication networks to operate with Project Bat Phone, a first-in communications system that pairs innovative information delivery software with off-the-shelf computers and military radios to deliver key advantages in first-in and contested, degraded and operationally-limited environments, known as CDO environments. Initial efforts had employed the PRC-117G tactical radio to do line-of-sight tests using high frequency radio transmission, validating the software’s capabilities to transmit environmental intelligence while overcoming issues inherent to wireless communication, including latency and data packet loss.
  • Cyber Evolution: 16th WS

    The 16th Weather Squadron is leading the way, reorganizing to become the 557th Weather Wing’s dedicated software and innovation squadron, a move that will generate new insights on environmental intelligence for combatant commanders around the globe. When complete, the reorganization will reinforce 16th WS’s culture of science and technological innovation and warfighter ethos, contributing to the National Defense Strategy’s line of effort to reform the Defense Department for greater lethality and performance.
  • 557th WW integrating with 16th AF missions

    The 557th Weather Wing is working to integrate its strengths into the recently formed 16th Air Force, which brought intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, cyber, electronic warfare, information operations and weather all under one roof. Integration is a key theme for the Air Force’s first information warfare numbered air force. The 557th’s efforts both reinforce the value of the wing’s existing missions, such as providing weather for aviation, but also offer new opportunities for the wing to increase lethality in the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions of other 16th AF wings. “The realignment of the 557th WW into the information warfare numbered air force will have a profound effect on the future of weather and environmental intelligence operations, and we intend to bring that future fast,” said Jeffrey Fries, 1st Weather Group chief of operations standards and tactics.
  • ACC gears up for Spark Tank 2020

    This year, Air Combat Command is hosting its third annual Spark Tank competition at the Creech Conference Center on Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Oct. 16, 2019. Airmen pitch innovative ideas to Air Force senior leaders and a panel of industry experts during this annual competition.
  • 1 WXG’s virtual training brings real benefits

    Airmen assigned to the 1st Weather Group are rolling out virtual reality training tailored to the needs of the Air Force Weather community, allowing them to train faster and smarter. Delivered on March 14, 2019, 1st WXG’s NextGen Environmental Weather Training System simulates setting up and assembling a tactical meteorological observation system, known as a TMQ-53. The TMQ-53 is a portable, automated weather station that can take observations in up to one minute intervals, enabling flying missions around the world. The data it produces can be utilized by a weather observer in the field or by the Air Force Weather community using satellite communications. The TMQ-53 simulation complements other weather VR training products being developed in parallel by the 3rd Weather Squadron at Fort Hood, Texas; the 18th Weather Squadron at Fort Bragg, North Carolina; and the 93rd Air-Ground Operations Wing at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. Coordination on the development maximized the innovation while eliminating a duplication of efforts. “The realism of the VR was incredible,” said Capt. Matthew Perkins, 1st WXG science officer. “I could make out tiny labels and serial numbers on equipment, and aircraft even flew overhead during the simulation. Virtual reality brings unprecedented realism to our training ability when the physical equipment is unavailable. Our deployed Airmen will have greater familiarity with these tools than ever before.”
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 557th WW Airmen find innovative cyber solutions

    Innovation is more important than ever. The 2018 National Defense Strategy has called for rapid innovation and to “deliver performance at the speed of relevance.” 557th Weather Wing Airmen have a history of finding ways to innovate, working smarter to save money and deliver new capabilities and their efforts are benefiting the Air Force Weather community and the Air Force at large.
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