DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. --
In 2007, a CH-47 Chinook carrying 22 U.S. service members in southeastern Afghanistan experienced a sudden loss of power in poor weather conditions while flying through towering mountain ranges. The crew attempted an emergency landing, but due to the absence of real-time weather observations, the helicopter crashed killing eight onboard.
To help prevent this outcome in the future, the U.S. Department of Defense decided to create a new lightweight weather observation system made for austere and remote locations. The DoD in partnership with a civilian contractor created the Micro Weather Sensor-M625, an all-in-one weather station weighing less than 4 pounds. Compared to the currently used portable weather station, the TMQ-53 that weighs almost 300 pounds.
“The portability of the MWS-M625 and the capability we now have to remain agile is the greatest advantage provided,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Ahmad Long, 355th Operations Support Squadron Weather Flight mission weather integration function noncommissioned officer in charge. “The primary purpose of the MWS-M625 is to support contingency locations, where it is even more paramount for our forecasters to be light and lethal.”
In exercise Green Flag-West at Fort Irwin National Training Center in California, the MWS-M625 was deemed essential for the 354th Fighter Squadron’s A-10 Thunderbolt IIs landings on a dry lakebed. Some advantages identified were the temperature differences from the fixed airfield sensor that was about 50 feet higher in elevation than the dry lakebed. Providing an accurate temperature to the A-10’s was crucial to calculating fuel levels for their takeoffs and landings.
Additionally, the 4-pound MWS-M625 was moved quickly and easily to different locations around the dry lakebed to take weather observations as mission requirements changed, while never losing power with the built-in solar panels. This advantage was unlike the 300-pound TMQ-53 that takes a couple of Airmen to move it and always needs a dedicated power source.
“The MWS-M625 provides many new opportunities, its size provides the ability to travel light and set up quickly,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Danah Mallory, 355th OSS Weather Flight weather craftsman and Green Flag-West weather forecaster. “The ease of use enables us to quickly train Airmen in other Air Force Specialty Codes to monitor conditions and supplement weather support in case of an emergency.”
During Green Flag-West, multi-capable Airmen were trained on the MWS-M625 providing another skillset required to compete, deter and win in the high-end fight. MCA learned about the 20 weather parameters the MWS-M625 can take such as wind speed, cloud ceilings and barometric pressure in 10-second intervals and transmits this information through an iridium satellite communications network that other weather forecasters can see all over the world.
This device is another example of the Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr.’s “Accelerate Change or Lose” initiative and how the 355th Wing is putting it into practice by utilizing new, more efficient technology to enable its Airmen to remain lethal and agile.