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Weather sounding systems for the Air Force and artillery

Warm, good weather with few clouds. We hear weather information like this on the radio and it’s enough to plan a barbecue. The Armed Forces, however, require much more precise information about the air mass and density, in order to ensure the accuracy of the artillery or the Air Force.

Raphael Neuhaus, specialist area Command and Control Systems, competence sector Command and Control + Reconnaissance Systems

A picture shows a cloud and the address Cluster Meteo below

What is radio sounding?

A radiosonde equipped with various measuring devices is carried up into the air by a balloon filled with hydrogen or helium. Helium has been used in the Swiss Armed Forces exclusively for sounding since 2018. This radiosonde rises with a more or less constant speed from approx. 5 m/s and is carried away by the wind current. The sounding system supplies measured values on the air temperature, humidity, air pressure and wind data of the atmosphere, from the ground up to a height of 30 km. To this end, a radiosonde, with sensors for temperature and humidity, as well as a position measuring system (GPS), is launched. Each radiosonde transmits its measured values at intervals of one second by radio to the ground station. The vertical profiles of the measured parameters can be determined from this data – up to the height at which the balloon bursts. 

Each of the curves represents the behaviour of a meteorological parameter dependent on the height. The blue curve stands for the profile of the relative humidity, the red for the temperature profile. The green curve on the right side reflects the wind speed, while the violet curve reflects the wind direction.
© MeteoSchweiz

The radio sounding system ARGUS

The radio sounding system ARGUS 37 has been developed by Meteolabor AG specifically for meteorological research. The reception and evaluation of radio sounding data has now been made possible with little effort. The client was MeteoSchweiz. The high-altitude weather sounding system ARGUS 48 was procured for the Air Force in 2017. This was a further development of the ARGUS 37 system.

armasuisse SA C+C was commissioned in 2020 to procure a sounding system for the artillery which enables mobile handling in operations. ARGUS 60 will meet this requirement and is currently in the prototype phase. ARGUS 48 was used as the basis and is being further developed with the additional requirements. The goal of having a system for the Air Force and artillery can be achieved, as compatibility exists. The meteorological conditions have a strong influence on the trajectories of artillery and mortar rounds, in order to achieve the desired effect at the target with the first fire strike. For this purpose, meteorological messages are created when ARGUS60 is used for sounding. These messages are accepted by INTAFF and processed. 

In cooperation with armasuisse, Meteoschweiz has tendered procurement for an automatic radio sounding system. This system is in Payerne and triggers sounding every day at noon and at midnight, on 365 days a year. For this purpose, multiple probes with balloons are provided in the system and connected to the gas pipeline. The balloon is blown up and when it is the appropriate size, the cover is opened and the probe starts automatically. 

Automatic radio sounding system in Payerne
© MeteoSchweiz