The Lockheed-built US Air Force defence meteorological satellite programme (DMSP) F-18 block 5D-3 spacecraft has been successfully launched into space.

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

The block 5D-3 series accommodates larger sensor payloads than earlier generations and features a larger capability power subsystem, and a more powerful on-board computer with increased memory and increased battery capacity that extends the mean mission duration.

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, C3 (command, control and communications), user terminals and weather centres.

DMSP F-18 was launched on a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket.