Raytheon Completes Joint Environmental Toolkit Upgrades for Air Force Weather
The full JET capability was originally deployed to all installations due to network bandwidth limitations preventing the use of a remote server. As bandwidth improved and the concept of operations evolved, the customer and Raytheon recognized the opportunity to reduce system administration and fielding costs by only deploying the full capability at regional centers and by providing "reach-back" to remaining users via a Web browser. These changes involve removing the current full JET instance at the deployed locations and replacing it with a sensor collection appliance. This SCA provides local base observations and basic weather support to local air traffic control (ATC) facilities. In addition to the concept of operations changes, Raytheon improved the forecasting and analysis capabilities to increase flight safety and mitigate environmental impacts on operations.
Raytheon has conducted demonstrations for operational users illustrating improved weather impacts and forecasting capabilities. As a result of the demonstrations, we have created anticipation concerning the evolution of warfighter support capabilities and its positive impact on operations. Figure 1 depicts the real-time assessment of weather impacts on flight operations. The figure shows a mission route with landing and takeoff locations in Florida, Louisiana, Maryland and Alabama. Each landing and takeoff location, indicated by the circle with three pie sections (site impact icons) can display the local observations and weather watches, warnings and advisories. With the addition of the radar layer, a forecaster can clearly see a high potential for impacts along the mission route. Another layer that is displayed is the PIREP data (pilot reports from aircraft flying at that location). The forecaster can select the white airplane symbol to view altitude, winds, icing, turbulence and temperature data, as well as the time of the report.
- Mission management. This capability provides a workflow for forecasters to generate weather briefings on planned missions for the responsible aircrew. These briefings include relevant environmental data, imagery and impact assessments. JET provides interoperability with command and control systems for creating missions based on air task orders, air control orders and common route definitions.
- Integrated geospatial display (IGD). This new capability leverages geographic information system technology and Open Geospatial Consortium services to allow users to visualize the environmental data processed by JET, fused with mission data in a geospatial context. This provides a nearly instantaneous understanding of situational awareness and potential impacts on operations. Figure 1 depicts the IGD with a planned mission route overlaid with radar data. The color icons at each point in the route indicate the environmental impact assessment for that point based on the current observation, forecast, and any weather watches, warnings or advisories.
- SCA ATC support. The ATC user interface provides airfield sensor readouts and basic local weather information for support of local air operations. This capability replaces existing displays and conforms to critical ATC display requirements.
Raytheon's solution to Air Force Weather's evolving concept of operations and requirements provides a highly available and scalable system. The modifications being made to the JET system improve the forecaster's ability to predict weather events and the impact of those events on mission planning, resulting in increased safety to the warfighter and reduced cost to the Air Force and Army.
Tim Ratliff, Dan Weeks