WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Force Weather Agency, which provides forecasts for Air Force and Army missions around the world, plans to replace its U.S.-based forecasting system with a model from the United Kingdom.

The U.K. model selected by the Air Force, known as the Unified Model of the United Kingdom Met Office, is widely respected. The Air Force says the model will improve its forecast capabilities and lower its costs. Within a single framework, this system is able to provide short- and longer-range forecasts over large and small areas – which is not a seamless operation within the U.S. system.

But the decision – which was made without coordination with the National Weather Service or U.S. Navy, which partner with the Air Force to improve predictions – has drawn criticism from parts of the U.S. weather-research and forecasting community.

Several leading figures say they are perplexed the Air Force has selected a foreign system, when the United States is investing substantial resources to develop its own world-class models.

An Air Force memo dated March 30 and obtained by The Washington Post says it will adopt the U.K. model next year and replace the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model developed by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), a federally funded laboratory in Boulder, Colorado.

“We’ve been notified by the Air Force that we’re going to sustain cuts,” said Scott Rayder, senior adviser to the president at the UCAR.

“I am confused as to why they’re subsidizing the competition and not supporting the U.S. weather modeling community.”