Mobile Met Unit

Flight lieutenant Dave Meakin at RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire in 2017Flight lieutenant Dave Meakin at RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire in 2017

Why meteorology matters to the military

Weather and climate can significantly impact global military operations. For example, the arid, desert climate of Iraq presents a very different challenge to military personnel compared with the temperate, continental environment of eastern Europe, or the tropical climate of Malaysia. So, it is vital for senior commanders to have accurate, timely and clear meteorological information to inform their mission planning and decision-making. By harnessing the meteorological expertise of the MMU, we can enable the UK and Allied Armed Forces to gain operational and tactical advantage during deployments.

What is the Mobile Met Unit? 

The MMU provides meteorological and environmental support to the UK and its allies on land, air and sea operations and exercises in the UK and overseas.

It consists of meteorologists and engineers who have a civilian career in the Met Office and also deploy to provide military weather services as an RAF Sponsored Reserve.

Read Peter's story of being part of the MMU

The MMU can establish a Met Office base in almost any location, often with limited supporting infrastructure. Using portable equipment and systems, they help ensure the safety and success of operations, especially in areas with challenging meteorological conditions.

A brief history of the MMU

  • Met Office staff were first mobilised during the First World War in 1915 to support the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and went on to support army operations too. They were involved in gas forecasting on the front lines, and went up first in tethered balloons and later in aircraft to make observations to assist the RFC and artillery with high angle shellfire.
Meteor Flight aircraftMeteor Flight was established in February 1918 with two planes. Instruments were strapped to the struts, and pilots took observations from the open cockpit to provide upper air data up to 14000 ft (4242 m) twice daily.
  • During the Second World War around 90% of 7,000 Met Office staff were deployed in uniform mainly to the RAF Volunteer Reserve (VR)
  • After the war around 200 Met Office staff served in the RAF VR and others in the Royal Auxiliary Air Force.
  • The MMU’s first official deployment during the Kuwait Crisis in 1961.
  • In 1982 the MMU was deployed to the British military operations of the Falklands War, code-named Op Corporate. They served until the opening of the Mount Pleasant Complex in 1985.
  • The MMU was also deployed to support the British operations of the 1991 Gulf War, code named Op Granby. They helped enforce the no-fly zones until 2003.
  • Between 1995 and 2002, the MMU supported United Nations peacekeeping and stabilisation in Bosnia.
  • In 2000 the MMU became the first-ever Sponsored Reserve unit in the UK Armed Forces, supporting the RAF.
  • Since the millennium, the MMU have supported Op Herrick in Afghanistan, Op Telic in Iraq (one of the largest deployment of British Forces since World War II) and Op Toral in Afghanistan.

Further information is available in ‘Remember The Met Office in World War One and World War Two’ (PDF 7MB). If you need this information in a different format, please email [email protected], or call 0370 900 0100 (from the UK) +44 330 135 0000 (outside the UK).

What the MMU does today?

Today the MMU continues to support UK Armed Forces at home and overseas, with around 30 personnel who are mostly deployable meteorologists. Although occasionally there is a need for longer-term warfare support, the nature of MMU deployments has changed to increasingly supporting smaller scale, more tactical exercises and smaller deployed operations. These can range from deploying with the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps, where responsibilities include briefing and advising senior military commanders, to deploying in support of ground troops on a tactical field exercise, which may involve putting basic military field craft and skill at arms training into operation. During a dynamic exercise, involving several changes of locations, MMU engineers may form part of the deployed team. Both on operations and exercises, MMU personnel take on military duties in addition to their meteorological ones, such as guard duty and duty officer roles.  

During recent years, MMU teams have been deployed in the UK, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and North America. Routine operations have included supporting NATO Air Policing, including Op Biloxi and Op Azotize. MMU engineers have also been deployed to Brunei in southeast Asia and other locations to provide equipment and training to military flying units who need observing equipment to fly safely.

A typical MMU set-up during a field exerciseA typical MMU set-up during a field exercise

For more information about the MMU, please email: [email protected]