***image1*** 1st Communications Maintenance Squadron Airmen scaled and gutted two high-towering weather radars, saving 288 work hours, more than $7,000 in TDY funds and approximately $1 million in contractor removal fees.
The radars, located at Sembach and Katterbach, belonged to the 21st Operational Weather Squadron and 7th Weather Squadron, Detachment 5 respectively, and were decommissioned when the contract terminated. The decommissioning also met U.S. Air Forces in Europeâ€™s recapitalization goals, according to the squadron.
“Weather units have been extremely successful in leveraging indigenous sources; in most cases, this data is superior to that produced by the tactical weather radar,” said Staff Sgt. Matthew Nell, 1st CMXS assistant NCOIC. â€œOther areas need the scarce resources that are made available by this decommissioning to continue their missions.”
“It saved more than $100,000 in repair and maintenance costs to keep the system up and running,” said Staff Sgt. Jamie Williams, 1st CMXS assistant site manager.
Four Airmen broke down each radar in 90 minutes, leaving stand-alone components.
“We didnâ€™t take everything out – it was a partial decommissioning – the guts have been taken out and the outer shell, which pretty much looks like a giant-looking golf ball, is still there,” said Sergeant Williams.
Items taken from the radar were evaluated to ensure operation, tagged correctly, returned to the supply system, and ownership re-allocated, said Sergeant Nell.
The radar was shipped back to the states: “Other areas need the scarce resources that are made available by this decommissioning to continue their missions,” said Sergeant Nell.
TWRs are used by the Air Force world-wide, most of which are located in Europe. For example, Aviano and Incirlik Air Bases still depend on the FMQ-18 weather radar. The TWR can effectively detect precipitation out to a distance of 200 miles.
“It was a lesser version of the Doppler,” said Tech. Sgt. David Eisler, 21st Operational Weather Squadron lead synoptician. “We can achieve a comparable capability using indigenous resources, such as German and U.K. radar, while cutting costs.”