Pentagon awards Space X with Ukraine agreement for Starlink satellite

Starlink changed the battlefield when Ukrainians didn't have that communication, says Mark Esper

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Ukrainian requires established Starlink satellite receivers to offer connection for civilians at Independence Square after the withdrawal of the Russian army from Kherson to the eastern bank of Dnieper River, Ukraine, on November 13, 2022.

Metin Atkas|Anadolu Agency|Getty Images

WASHINGTON –The Pentagon stated Thursday it has actually accepted acquire Starlink satellite web terminals from Elon Musk’s Space X for usage in Ukraine as Kyiv continues to protect itself versus a major Russian intrusion.

“We continue to work with a range of global partners to ensure Ukraine has the satellite and communication capabilities they need. Satellite communications constitute a vital layer in Ukraine’s overall communications network and the department contracts with Starlink for services of this type,” the Pentagon stated in a declaration to CNBC.

The Pentagon decreased to provide extra agreement information, consisting of the rate, scope and timeline of the shipment.

“For operational security reasons and due to the critical nature of these systems — we do not have additional information regarding specific capabilities, contracts or partners to provide at this time,” the declaration included.

Bloomberg initially reported the agreement onThursday Space X did not right away react to CNBC’s ask for remark.

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The very first Starlink terminals in Ukraine showed up 4 days after Russian soldiers put over the country’s border in what ended up being the biggest air, land and sea attack in Europe considering that World War II.

Ukraine digital minister Mykhailo Fedorov, who had actually formerly asked Musk for the ability on Twitter, published that Starlink was “here” in Ukraine– with a photo showing more than 2 lots boxes in the back of a truck.

Musk stated in October that Space X would not have the ability to continue moneying usage of Starlink terminals in the nation out of its own coffers “indefinitely,” after a report from CNN stated the business had actually asked the Pentagon to cover the expense.

Western authorities have actually formerly hailed Musk’s choice to gear up Ukraine with Starlink web, mentioning the enormous and indiscriminate Russian shelling on civilian facilities that has actually left big swaths of the nation without interactions.

Musk apparently informed the Pentagon in October he would no longer fund the Starlink terminals in Ukraine as the nation prepared to eliminate through the extreme winter season. However, the billionaire reversed course and did continue to money the service.

‘Never meant to be weaponized’

Starlink is Space X’s international network of over 4,000 satellites that supplies service to more than 50 nations. The business has actually grown Starlink to more than 1.5 million consumers, and is weekly introducing batches of extra satellites to broaden the network’s ability. The U.S. has actually authorized a strategy to broaden to as lots of as 7,500 satellites in orbit.

Space X has actually progressively broadened Starlink’s item offerings over the last few years, offering services to domestic, company, RECREATIONAL VEHICLE, maritime and air travel consumers.

Earlier this year, Gwynne Shotwell, president and chief running officer, stated Space X has actually been “really pleased to be able to provide Ukraine connectivity and help them in their fight for freedom,” however she stressed that Starlink “was never intended to be weaponized.”

“Ukrainians have leveraged it in ways that were unintentional and not part of any agreement, so we have to work on that at Starlink,” Shotwell stated in February.

Shotwell included that Ukraine utilizing Starlink as an interactions system “for the military is fine, but our intent was never to have them use it for offensive purposes.”

She particularly kept in mind reports about Ukraine utilizing Starlink “on drones.” Ukrainian soldiers have actually explained utilizing it to link drones and recognize and damage opponent targets, the Times of London reported in March 2022.

“I’m not going to go into the details; there are things that we can do to limit their ability to do that … there are things that we can do and have done,” Shotwell stated.

SpaceX is a leader in rocket launches, but Starlink is its golden ticket