Milstar launch will boost Iraq satellite comm

Milstar launch will boost Iraq satellite comm

The Air Force has launched its sixth and final Military Strategic and Tactical Relay satellite to bolster communications and battlefield information for warfighters in Iraq and Afghanistan.

'Our secure communication capabilities on and off the battlefield are greatly improved' with the use of the Milstar constellation, said Lt. Col. Tony Cotton, commander of the 3rd Space Launch Squadron and the Air Force's Milstar launch director.

In Iraq, Special Operations forces use Milstar links to transmit voice, video, data and images. Defense Department officials said the joint satellite system played a crucial role in the rescue of Pfc. Jessica Lynch, the prisoner of war from West Virginia who was captured when her maintenance unit became lost March 23.

Milstar provides secure, jam-resistant, global communications for high-priority military users. This final satellite, launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., on April 8 from a Titan IV-B rocket, will become fully operational next month.

'This satellite system is a critical communication asset for each branch of the military,' Cotton said. 'It allows our highest level military leaders to communicate with battlefield commanders.'

Lockheed Martin Corp. built the $800 million satellite launched last week and the constellation's other five satellites.

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