The US Air Force’s defence meteorological satellite programme (DMSP) F-18 Block 5D-3 spacecraft is undergoing final preparation for lift-off from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

The air force will use the Lockheed Martin built DMSP for strategic and tactical weather prediction to aid in planning operations at sea, on land and in the air.

Lockheed Martin DMSP programme director Sue Stretch said that after several years of building, integrating, upgrading and testing the company was eagerly anticipating the launch.

The DMSP F-18 collects specialised global meteorological, oceanographic and solar-geophysical information in all weather conditions.

The DMSP constellation comprises two spacecraft in near-polar orbits, command, control and communications, user terminals and weather centres.

DMSP F-18 will launch atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket on 18 October 2009.