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Air Force's weather-modification plans 
Author:   Mark Graffis <>
Date:   1999/01/19
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   WND Exclusive

   Air Force's weather-modification plans
   By 2025, paper predicts it will be the ultimate weapon

   By Jon E. Dougherty
   © 1999

   For centuries man has sought the ability to predict and control
   weather patterns, though the ability to do so has remained elusive.
   Besides lacking the technology, ethical concerns have held back
   development of what could be the ultimate weapon.

   However a research paper written by officers in the U.S. Air Force
   concludes that weather-modification is inevitable and that to prevent
   other nations from developing this technology into a weapon they can
   employ against the United States, the U.S. should do so first.

   In about 30 years, the report said, the United States should have the
   ability not only to control local and regional weather patterns but to
   apply that technology in a number of military scenarios. Authors of
   the report believe it is in the best interests of the U.S. military
   and, specifically, the Air Force, to be able to control or create
   weather elements such as precipitation fog, and full-blown storms for
   military uses.

   Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Michael E. Ryan commissioned [5]the
   report called "Weather as A Force Multiplier: Owning the Weather In
   2025." It was first presented on June 17, 1996.

   Military planners have often bemoaned the fact that during critical
   operations weather has been a mitigating factor. Though the U.S.
   military is generally considered superior to the forces of other
   nations and can wage war in most kinds of weather, Air Force
   operations traditionally have suffered the most from inclement weather
   like rain, fog, and other low-visibility conditions.

   The Air Force is tasked with most military satellite and space
   surveillance missions, and such weather conditions tend to degrade the
   ability of sensitive surveillance equipment such as infrared
   technology and satellite imagery. The Air Force is seeking to find a
   new way to defeat such natural phenomena because they believe without
   a capability such as weather-modification, critical combat missions in
   the future will be continue to be hampered to the detriment of U.S.

   For example, the report said that a significant number of air sorties
   into the city of Tuzla during the initial deployment supporting the
   Bosnian peace operation were aborted due to poor weather. And during
   Operation Desert Storm, Gen. Buster C. Glosson once asked his weather
   officer to tell him which targets would be clear in 48 hours for
   inclusion in the initial bombing campaign over Iraq and Kuwait.

   "But current forecasting capability is only 85 percent accurate for no
   more than 24 hours, which doesn't adequately meet the needs of the air
   tasking order (ATO) planning cycle," said the report.

   The report also said that "over 50 percent of the F-117 sorties (were)
   weather aborted over their targets and A-10s only flew 75 of 200
   scheduled close air support (CAS) missions due to low cloud cover
   during the first two days of the campaign.

   "The application of weather-modification technology to clear a hole
   over the targets long enough for F-117s to attack and place bombs on
   target or clear the fog from the runway at Tuzla would have been a
   very effective force multiplier. Weather-modification clearly has
   potential for military use at the operational level to reduce the
   elements of fog and friction for friendly operations and to
   significantly increase them for the enemy," the report concluded.

   For the purpose of this report the Air Force defined
   weather-modification as "the alteration of weather phenomena over a
   limited area for a limited period of time." The authors predicted that
   within the next three decades the concept of weather-modification
   could expand to include the ability to shape weather patterns by
   "influencing their determining factors."

   For example, when faced with an enemy which may have technological or
   numerical superiority in terms of air power in any given area of the
   world, quite simply the U.S. is hoping to develop the technology to
   alter the weather patterns over that specific theater of operations.
   The military says it is imperative because it believes other countries
   -- some of which are potentially hostile to the U.S. -- are attempting
   to develop their own weather-modification capability.

   "Achieving such a highly accurate and reasonably precise
   weather-modification capability in the next 30 years will require
   overcoming some challenging but not insurmountable technological and
   legal hurdles," the report said. The authors believe that altering
   weather patterns will eventually become an "integral part of U.S.
   national security policy with both domestic and international

   "Society will have to provide the resources and legal basis for a
   mature capability to develop," said the authors, which signaled that
   the Air Force anticipates public reluctance and likely legal battles
   as hurdles to the development and deployment of a global
   weather-modification system.

   The U.S. currently has a limited number of weather-modification
   technologies available. But the report said that "technology
   advancements in five major areas are necessary for an integrated
   weather modification capability," which include "advanced nonlinear
   modeling techniques, computational capability, information gathering
   and transmission, a global sensor array, and weather intervention
   techniques." Even though "some intervention tools exist today," new
   technologies "may be developed and refined in the future."

   The Air Force said that by 2025 it fully expects to be able to
   influence the weather "on a mesoscale (<200 sq km) or microscale
   (immediate local area) to achieve operational capabilities." They plan
   to implement this technology by using highly trained "weather force
   specialists (WFS)," as well as access ports to the "global weather
   network, a dense, highly accurate local area weather sensing and
   communication system," and "proven" weather-modification technologies.

   While more accurate weather forecasting has been an objective for a
   number of years in the private sector, clearly this report signals a
   shift in government policy from developing a primarily
   civilian-oriented forecast technology to a military technology
   designed to alter weather activity and patterns.

   "Efforts are already under way to create more comprehensive weather
   models primarily to improve forecasts, but researchers are also trying
   to influence the results of these models by adding small amounts of
   energy at just the right time and space," the report said. "These
   programs are extremely limited at the moment and are not yet
   validated, but there is great potential to improve them in the next 30

   A global weather-modification system could also be used to provide
   false weather data to an enemy. "Offensive abilities could provide
   spoofing options to create virtual weather in the enemy's sensory and
   information systems," said the report, "making it more likely for them
   to make decisions producing results of our choosing rather than
   theirs. It would also allow for the capability to mask or disguise our
   weather-modification activities."

   "Conceivably, with enough lead time and the right conditions, you
   could get 'made-to-order' weather," the report claimed.

   Air Force planners also envision controlling what they term as "near
   space" in the future with 2025 technology. The report describes the
   desire for military commanders to deny an enemy satellite
   communication capabilities so U.S. forces could, for example, make
   amphibious landings without an enemy knowing where the U.S. would
   strike and in what numbers.

   Currently other countries, such as China, are developing laser
   technology so they can employ beams against U.S. spy satellites, thus
   disabling them, rather than spend money on research to alter weather
   activity in the upper atmospheres. That option, say experts, is
   limited in scope and cumbersome, though they did not offer any
   information about whether or not such laser technology could be
   effectively miniaturized in 30 years so satellite lasers could be more
   easily deployed, like a missile battery or an artillery piece.

   "It sounds like they (the military) want a system they can employ
   globally from fixed locations, without having to move it (the
   weather-modification system) around," said one source who requested

   "Modification of the near-space environment is crucial to battlespace
   dominance," the report continued. "General Charles Horner, former
   commander in chief, United States space command, described his worst
   nightmare as 'seeing an entire Marine battalion wiped out on some
   foreign landing zone because he was unable to deny the enemy
   intelligence and imagery generated from space.'"

   To accomplish this, Air Force officials believe they can successfully
   modify the ionosphere as well, thus enabling commanders on the ground
   to achieve air and intelligence superiority over vast expanses of land
   -- perhaps even an entire military theater of operations or an entire

   "Modification of the ionosphere to enhance or disrupt communications
   has recently become the subject of active research. According to Lewis
   M. Duncan, and Robert L. Showen, the former Soviet Union conducted
   theoretical and experimental research in this area at a level
   considerably greater than comparable programs in the West," the
   authors said.

   "There is a strong motivation for this research, because induced
   ionospheric modifications may influence, or even disrupt" an enemy's
   entire radio communications capability.

   Throughout much of the report, Air Force authors rely mostly on the
   pretext of altering pre-existing weather conditions and patterns in
   order to make the weather-modification technology the most effective.
   However, planners are also entertaining the possibility of a concept
   called "artificial (or virtual) weather," which is nothing more than
   feeding false weather information into an enemy's information systems
   with powerful communications equipment incorporated into the entire
   weather-modification system.

   "Virtual weather could be created by influencing the weather
   information received by an end user," the authors wrote. "(The
   enemy's) perception of parameter values or images from global or local
   meteorological information systems would differ from reality. This
   difference in perception would lead the end user to make degraded
   operational decisions." Virtual or "artificial" weather technologies
   do not currently exist, the report said.

   "Even today's most technologically advanced militaries would usually
   prefer to fight in clear weather and blue skies," authors concluded.
   "But as war-fighting technologies proliferate, the side with the
   technological advantage will prefer to fight in weather that gives
   them an edge."

   The report continued, "As more countries pursue, develop, and exploit
   increasing types and degrees of weather-modification technologies, we
   must be able to detect their efforts and counter their activities when
   necessary. As depicted, the technologies and capabilities associated
   with such a counter weather role will become increasingly important."

   "The lessons of history indicate a real weather-modification
   capability will eventually exist despite the risk (because) the drive
   exists. People have always wanted to control the weather and their
   desire will compel them to collectively and continuously pursue their
   goal," the report concluded.

   See Jon E. Dougherty's daily [6]column. He may be reached through



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