Information relayed from U.S. Air Force flights to the National Hurricane Center helped forecasters to narrow warning areas by more than 30 percent for Hurricane Gustav, according to the USAF. Moreover, the armed service re-assigned personnel usually tasked to ISR missions for Iraq and Afghanistan operations.
In addition to aircraft provided by the 9th Reconnaissance Wing, the 30th Intelligence Squadron deployed three imagery analysts as part of the 1st Air Force "Fly Away Team." These imagery analysts have spent the last few days building "collection decks," which begins the collection process now that the imagery aircraft are flying. A collection deck is a prioritization of critical areas such as highly populated areas, refineries or airports, the USAF says.
Also this year, all 10 WC-130J aircraft are equipped with the Stepped-Frequency Microwave Radiometer (SFMR) to constantly measure surface winds directly below the aircraft. The SFMR, called the "Smurf," also can determine rainfall rates within a storm system and, in addition to wind speeds at flight level, provides structural detail of the storm.
Meanwhile, 32 search-and-rescue helicopters were assigned in the U.S. Coast Guard to support pre- and post-storm operations. Three Coast Guard cutters also have been designated to support post-storm operations.
Likewise, Navy forces include the amphibious assault ships USS Bataan (LHD 5) and USS Nassau (LHA 4) and the amphibious transport dock ship USS Ponce (LPD 15). Two P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft, 24 medium and heavy lift helicopters, a mobile dive and salvage unit detachment, an underwater construction team detachment, two naval mobile construction battalion (NMCB) air detachments and a fleet survey team have also been identified.
Air Forces Northern (AFNORTH) at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., is the Air Force organization responsible for providing Air Force resources to U.S. Northern Command for the Defense Department's support of civil authorities. Air Force News has created a Gustav link.
Information about the Coast Guard's response efforts can be found here. Imagery of the Coast Guard's response efforts is here.
More news from U.S. Fleet Forces Command is here.