Pentagon Selects SpaceX For Starlink Satellite Internet Contract in Ukraine

The Pentagon announced Thursday that it has agreed to buy Starlink satellite internet terminals from Elon Musk’s SpaceX for use in Ukraine as the country continues to defend itself against a full-fledged Russian invasion.

“We will continue collaborating with various global partners to ensure that Ukraine has the satellite and communication capabilities it requires.”

Satellite communications are an essential layer in Ukraine’s overall communications network, and the Pentagon contracts with Starlink for such services,” the Pentagon stated in a statement.

The Pentagon declined to provide contract data, such as the price, scope, and delivery timeframe.

“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 statement continued.

Bloomberg initially reported the arrangement on Thursday. SpaceX did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

The first Starlink terminals in Ukraine arrived four days after Russian troops crossed the border in what became Europe’s most significant air, land, and sea invasion since World War II.

Ukraine’s digital minister, Mykhailo Fedorov, declared on Twitter that Starlink was “here” in Ukraine, with a snapshot of more than two dozen boxes in the back of a truck.

Musk stated in October that SpaceX could not continue supporting the use of Starlink terminals in the country from its own funds “indefinitely,” following a CNN story that the business had asked the Pentagon to cover the expense.

Western officials have already praised Musk’s plan to provide Ukraine with Starlink internet, noting Russia’s massive and indiscriminate shelling of civilian infrastructure, which has rendered significant parts of the nation without connectivity.

In October, Musk reportedly told the Pentagon that he would no longer fund the Starlink terminals in Ukraine as the country braced for the brutal winter months. However, the millionaire changed his mind and agreed to continue supporting the program.

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‘Never Intended To Be Weaponized’

SpaceX’s Starlink global network of over 4,000 satellites serves more than 50 countries. The corporation has grown Starlink to over 1.5 million customers and is launching batches of additional satellites every week to improve the network’s potential.

The United States has approved a plan to increase the number of satellites in orbit to 7,500.

Pentagon Selects SpaceX For Starlink Satellite Internet Contract in Ukraine

SpaceX has recently increased Starlink’s product offerings, selling services to residential, commercial, RV, maritime, and aviation customers.

Gwynne Shotwell, president and chief operating officer of SpaceX, stated earlier this year that the company is “really pleased to be able to provide Ukraine connectivity and help them in their fight for freedom.” Still, she stressed that Starlink “was never intended to be weaponized.”

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

Ukraine’s use of Starlink as a communications system “for the military is fine,” but “our intent was never to have them use it for offensive purposes.”

She emphasized stories of Ukraine employing Starlink “on drones.” According to the Times of London, Ukrainian soldiers have used it to connect drones to identify and attack enemy targets in March 2022.

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

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