• Kyodo

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The Defense Ministry has announced that its first communications satellite will be launched on Jan. 24 as part of efforts to upgrade its communications infrastructure amid the North Korean missile threat and other security challenges.

The Kirameki-2 satellite is one of three defense communications satellites the ministry plans to deploy to replace three civilian satellites it uses.

The new satellites are expected to facilitate direct communication among units of the Self-Defense Forces through a high-speed, high-capacity network, ministry officials said.

The ministry plans to operate Kirameki-2 over the Indian Ocean and expects it to be used by SDF personnel taking part in the U.N. peacekeeping operations in South Sudan and the anti-piracy mission off Somalia, they said.

Kirameki-2 will be launched by an H-IIA rocket from Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture. That will precede the launch of Kirameki-1, which was damaged during transport to its launch site in French Guiana in South America and is being repaired.

Kirameki-1 was originally set to launch in July 2015 but is now expected to go up around March 2018, at the earliest.

Kirameki-3 is meanwhile set for launch around the end of fiscal 2020. While Kirameki-1 is expected to operate over the Pacific Ocean, Kirameki-3 would operate over Japan.

The ministry expects to use the new trio of X-band-equipped satellites for about 15 years. The X band is a frequency used by the SDF for military communications in other countries.

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