The US Air Force (USAF) has awarded a contract to meteorological intelligence company to provide three-dimensional (3D) global weather and ocean data.

The $19.3m contract will see the company support a constellation of high-tech weather satellites, which can observe precipitation and storm structures from space.

The spaceborne weather data will be provided to the Hanscom Air Force Base-headquartered Aerospace Management Systems Division.

Data can be used to improve numerical weather modelling, machine learning (ML) programmes, and other near-term forecast capabilities.

Hanscom Air Force Base Weather Systems Branch materiel leader John Dreher said: “Global environmental data is essential to effective mission planning and execution of air and ground operations.

“This satellite constellation partnership with will give air force weather operators a vastly improved awareness of current and forecasted weather conditions.”

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According to Weather Systems Branch staff meteorology chief lieutenant colonel Andrew Travis, several Next-Generation Radar (NEXRAD) systems are providing weather coverage in the US and other selected overseas locations.

The NEXRAD systems currently provide updates on intensity, storm dynamics, precipitation type, and freezing levels, as well as indicate severe weather conditions.

To ensure aviation safety, these systems are crucial for weather forecasters, air traffic controllers and pilots.

Travis said: “Despite some radar coverage in Europe and parts of Asia, large swaths of the globe, including over oceans and polar regions, lack weather-sensing capabilities.

“This new constellation can help close the sensing gap in those areas.”

Following the latest contract, Aerospace Management Systems division personnel will work with other air force units to develop a plan for integrating the data into the USAF’s ‘Weather Virtual Private Cloud’. plans to start launching satellites in their weather intelligence platform by the end of next year.