Unlike past years, members of Air Force Reserve Command’s 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron at Keesler AFB, Miss., will not fly out to JB Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, with their WC-130Js to gather information on Pacific winter storms for the National Weather Service, announced unit officials. That’s because NWS wants to test whether Pacific storm prediction is still as effective without the WC-130J reconnaissance flights, states Keesler’s Jan. 10 release. “They are trying to determine how much value is in having a plane fly into a storm’s path versus how much can be saved if it is determined that a flight is not necessary,” said Lt. Col. Jon Talbot, the squadron’s chief meteorologist. Unlike storms on the US East Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico, “Pacific storms begin to develop further away from land, which gives meteorologists more time to correct the storm models and give a more accurate prediction of the storms’ intensity,” he said. The WC-130Js deploy dropsondes that measure barometric pressure, temperature, and precipitation data. (Keesler report by MSgt. Brian Lamar)
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.