War on Terrorism

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Communication engineers install fiber to prepare for new weather system in Afghanistan

By Staff Sgt. Stephenie Wade
455th Expeditionary Wing
Click photo for screen-resolution image
BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (10/3/13) - Weather is an important factor for determining if an aircraft can fly. To provide more accurate weather information on Bagram Air Field, the 455th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron is installing a new weather observation system here.

The weather system will be comprised of remote sensors connected to servers that will collect automated weather readings. The weather will then be available worldwide via the Internet to individuals with a common access card.

With the large amount of communication assets involved in the project, the first step of the weathers system's installation was tasked to nine Airmen - seven installers and two engineers - assigned to the 455th Expeditionary Communications Squadron engineering and installation team who are forward deployed here from 9th Air Force, Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar.

"This is the first weather system like this to ever be installed in the area of responsibility," said Senior Master Sgt. Matthew Eyen, 455th ECS, E and I project engineer deployed from Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base, Ohio. "As project engineer, I use base specifications to create a project package, or drawings for the fiber optic cable infrastructure. It informs installers what materials are needed and where to install on the base. This is an interesting system that is using miles of fiber optic cable to become a singular system with far flung sensors."

Most of their tools come from Air Forces Central Command and the supplies used for the project came from other bases in the area of responsibility that were scheduled to close. After the project package instructions were complete, members of the E and I team began digging trenches on the north end of the flight line for the fiber cables, but the digging came with challenges.

"The de-mining request was a surprise, we asked for clearance down to 12 feet," said Master Sgt. Lance Perone, 455th ECS E&I Quality Assurance representative and native of Zanesville, Ohio.

"Only six inches are cleared and we were advised to call the explosive ordnance disposal if we dug up anything that looked dangerous. With help from RED HORSE and 455th Expeditionary Civil Engineering Squadron, we were able to keep digging with borrowed equipment."

After a month of digging trenches and installing fiber cables, the comm portion was complete. The next step in the process will be installing the weather sensors power source and solar panels, and will be completed by the 455th ECES.

Bagram has some of the most challenging aviation weather in the world and sees operations from small remotely piloted aircraft to the largest cargo jets in the world.

"It is a very satisfying knowing that the time I spent here will help install some of the very latest technology," said Eyen, a native of Westerville, Ohio. "Because of Bagram's high-altitude location, weather here is hard to predict. This state of the art weather observation technology will help determine more accurate weather measurements. This system will improve flight safety and enhance the situational awareness of our pilots."

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