KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea – Although aircraft assigned to the 80th and 35th Fighter have left Kunsan for the duration of the runway’s renovation, the 8th Operations Support Squadron weather flight remains dedicated to their mission at the 8th Fighter Wing.
Achieving air superiority is a critical condition for successful Air Force operations and Kunsan’s weather flight continues to inform leaders on weather conditions that could pose a threat to personnel and assets, arming them with knowledge to make calls on weather safety precautions. These forecasters remain vigilant, providing vital information for both resource protection and aircraft generation of Wolf Pack assets at Osan AB and here.
“We're doing the exact same thing now, just over the phone,” said Staff Sgt. Kaleb Schmidt, 8th Operations Support Squadron weather craftsman. “We still have folks here who are producing mission execution forecasts for both the 35th and 80th FSs up at Osan. The only difference is they're taking off from somewhere else.”
“We're still briefing pilots, we're still producing similar products to what we’ve done before,” added 1st Lt. Keis Verleur, 8th OSS flight commander and weather parachutist. “It's a lot more coordination now, we work a lot more with Osan’s weather shop to kind of have one singular forecast.”
The weather flight utilizes a combination of data collection methods and specifically designed meteorological equipment and weather sensors that measure, collect, and utilize this data to help pilots plan flight routes, and provide necessary information for safe takeoffs and landings.
“If you go to 10 families and ask them how they make the same signature dish, everyone's gonna have a different recipe,” added Schmidt. “It’s the same for weather forecasts. You use a bunch of different resources and everyone has a different approach. Every forecaster has their own unique way of forecasting using whichever techniques they prefer best.”
For the Airmen in weather flight, their biggest objective is safety and mitigating the weather’s impact on Air Force assets and mission. The data that they provide is used not only by Airmen at Kunsan but also by planners stateside who utilize their weather observations to help build climatology assessments for theater-wide strategies.
“If we let people know beforehand they can take the necessary precautions,” said Verleur. “Then also, trying to find favorable conditions where we can still fly but maybe the enemy can't. So not only mitigating the impacts of weather, but also exploiting marginal conditions for our own benefit.”
Regardless of the location of the 8th FW F-16 assets, Airmen at the 8th OSS weather flight continue to support the Wolf Pack’s flying mission.
“We can produce forecasts all day, but if nobody uses them, that's kind of pointless,” Verleur finished. “So knowing that it actually does lead to something, knowing that people actually do care about the data that we provide and kind of makes it all worthwhile. Having other people rely on you and be integral to the mission is what gives it all purpose.”