The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is taking strides in enhancing weather monitoring capabilities by developing portable automatic weather stations (AWS) tailored for use in remote airfields and helipads. These specialized weather stations will cater to locations where conventional meteorological facilities are lacking, such as advance landing grounds (ALGs) in Ladakh and the northeastern regions.
Key meteorological parameters including surface temperature, wind speed and direction, humidity, atmospheric pressure, cloud cover, and visibility are essential for aviation operations, significantly impacting aircraft and helicopter performance, as well as flight safety, especially during take-off and landing procedures.
Regular Indian Air Force (IAF) airbases are equipped with comprehensive meteorological services or fixed AWS. However, ALGs and helicopter operating sites in remote regions often lack these facilities. Given that flight operations to ALGs occur on an as-needed basis and not on a regular schedule, installing permanent AWS at these locations would add to maintenance efforts.
DRDO scientists emphasize the unpredictability of weather in mountainous regions, which can change rapidly and affect flying conditions. To address this challenge, portable AWS systems are being developed. These portable units can be stored in nearby military units and deployed when required, providing an effective solution to monitor changing weather conditions at remote airfields and helipads.
Some notable ALGs include Daulat Beg Oldie, Fukche, and Nyoma in Ladakh, with Nyoma recently approved for upgrading into a full-fledged fighter base. Additionally, there are ALGs like Tuting, Vijaynagar, Walong, Ziro, and Tawang in the northeastern regions, along with various high-altitude helipads used for transporting personnel and equipment.
These portable AWS systems, envisioned by DRDO, will be designed to be man-portable, with collapsible stands for sensor placement. They will be powered by rechargeable batteries or solar panels, ensuring self-sufficiency in remote locations. Apart from ALGs and helipads, these portable weather stations can be deployed in various other settings to meet specific operational requirements.
This development underscores DRDO’s commitment to advancing defense technologies and ensuring that critical meteorological data is readily available to support aviation operations, contributing to safety and effectiveness, particularly in remote and challenging terrains.