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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

MOD launches new Skynet satellite

A new satellite which will provide secure military communications for UK Armed Forces has been successfully launched into space.

The extra lines of communication will benefit personnel deployed in Afghanistan and other parts of the world, including the Falklands, Cyprus and on ships at sea.

MOD pictures show the moment that Skynet 5D was launched from French Guiana, South America. It is the fourth satellite of the Skynet 5 project to be put into space since 2007 under a £4bn Private Finance Initiative (PFI) programme with Astrium, who built the satellite and service providers Astrium Services.

The Skynet project sustains approximately 800 jobs between the company's sites in Stevenage, Portsmouth and Corsham, Wiltshire.

When in space, Skynet 5D will travel at speeds of around 10,000 kilometres per hour and is expected to cover around 1.2 billion kilometres during its time in orbit.

Colonel Mike Griffiths, Head of Networks for the MOD's Defence Equipment and Support organisation, said:

'The Skynet programme provides vital support to the Armed Forces. The launch of this latest satellite will deliver additional global communications capacity to support our operations.'

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said:

'The launch of Skynet 5D marks another milestone in this very successful programme. These satellites provide essential secure communication channels for our Armed Forces in Afghanistan and allow all three Services to communicate with each other.'

The first of the satellites, Skynet 5A, was launched in March 2007, followed by Skynet 5B in November 2007, and Skynet 5C in June 2008.

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