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USAF Aerial Weather Reconnaissance Using the Lockheed WC-130 Aircraft

Rodney S. HendersonByran, Tex. 77801

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Air Force weather reconnaissance forces fly a wide variety of missions for many different military and civilian agencies. The workhorse of the weather reconnaissance fleet is the Lockheed WC-130 “Hercules,” operated by three weather reconnaissance squadrons. A discussion of the organization of Air Force weather reconnaissance forces is presented along with brief remarks concerning the aircraft and its meteorological instrumentation. The tropical cyclone reconnaissance, tactical support, and East Coast winter storms missions are discussed as being representative of typical weather reconnaissance operations. The effectiveness of Air Force weather reconnaissance is considered along with remarks concerning the accuracy of data acquired on typical operations. Efforts to develop improved meteorological systems over nearly a decade have resulted in concept development for an Improved Weather Reconnaissance System (IWRS), whose general characteristics are briefly considered.

1 Captain, U.S. Air Force; presently assigned to Texas A&M University in a graduate meteorology program.

Air Force weather reconnaissance forces fly a wide variety of missions for many different military and civilian agencies. The workhorse of the weather reconnaissance fleet is the Lockheed WC-130 “Hercules,” operated by three weather reconnaissance squadrons. A discussion of the organization of Air Force weather reconnaissance forces is presented along with brief remarks concerning the aircraft and its meteorological instrumentation. The tropical cyclone reconnaissance, tactical support, and East Coast winter storms missions are discussed as being representative of typical weather reconnaissance operations. The effectiveness of Air Force weather reconnaissance is considered along with remarks concerning the accuracy of data acquired on typical operations. Efforts to develop improved meteorological systems over nearly a decade have resulted in concept development for an Improved Weather Reconnaissance System (IWRS), whose general characteristics are briefly considered.

1 Captain, U.S. Air Force; presently assigned to Texas A&M University in a graduate meteorology program.

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