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18th OSS Predicts the Unpredictable

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Edward W. Yankus
  • 18th Wing Public Affairs

“The weather flight enables combat power by delivering weather support to all transient flying units, 24/7,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Jonathan Regalado, 18th OSS radar field and weather service technician. “We mitigate environmental threats through integration of every phase of operations.”


“We assist in planning and execution, maximizing windows of opportunity and minimizing risk to personnel and resources.”


RAWS Airmen use satellite and radar imagery to get a jump on incoming weather that may be detrimental to operations and assets, but even the best equipment is vulnerable to the elements.


“Last year, most – if not all – of Okinawa had to deal with the effects of Typhoon Khanun,” said Regalado. “We were able to see the storm as it was forming and approaching so we had a chance to be properly prepared. The radar got the worst of it as the dome that is used to protect the radar itself was ripped off in the harsh winds.”


The wind speed of Typhoon Khanun clocked at over 137 mph, in comparison, winds at just 80 mph are enough to knock over a pickup truck.


Kadena’s mission never stops and the 18th OSS had a backup radar to help cover the damage left from the storm.


“The radar we are using now is called a “portable doppler radar,” it is much smaller and has less power, but it does the same thing,” said Regalado. “Though its smaller size it can still provide coverage across the island. It's still accurate just as the storms come in, and the closer they are it gets more accurate.”


Despite the difficulties, 18th OSS RAWS put their skills to use by tracking daily weather and storms that form off of the coast of the island. By combining tools and available data, they can successfully predict the storm’s course.



The weather flight supports over 35 aircraft and 40,000 service members and their families.They must deliver timely, accurate and relevant weather intelligence to anticipate mission impacts across the island.


“Air Force weather is focused, not just on resource protection, but also the public safety, the equipment and operations,” said Regalado. “We're all tied into the mission. For us, the data that we provide makes sure the mission is a success.”