With Russia attempting to demolish Ukrainian military infrastructure, notably power and the internet, Starlink is set to become even more critical in the next weeks and months, as Ukraine’s military is using Elon Musk’s Starlink to blow up Russian tanks and military targets.
Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov went on Twitter shortly after Russia’s intervention commenced in late February to request that US entrepreneur Elon Musk deploy his Starlink satellites to be used in Ukraine. Musk quickly responded with a tweet: “Starlink service is now active in Ukraine. More terminals en route.”
A bunch of terminals and strong batteries landed in Ukraine shortly afterwards. Others quickly followed suit. Fedorov expressed his gratitude one more on Twitter: “Starlink — here. Thanks, @elonmusk.”
There were no classified communications, lengthy deliberations, or governmental or legislative oversight: just a really public contract between a politician whose country had been targeted and a mysterious billionaire who then challenged the perpetrator, Russian President Vladimir Putin, to “single combat.” What appeared to be a public relations coup is now playing a crucial role in Ukraine’s defense.
‘Create target acquisition’
According to reports in the British press, Ukraine’s army is using Starlink to launch drone strikes against Russian tanks and locations with great effectiveness. According to the Telegraph, Starlink is especially important for the military in locations where the infrastructure is poor and there is no access to the internet.
The aerial surveillance unit Aerorozvidka, according to The Telegraph, is utilizing Starlink to track and organize unmanned aerial vehicles, allowing troops to shoot anti-tank weaponry with pinpoint accuracy. According to The Telegraph, the system’s high information rates are the only way to ensure the system’s communication is stable.
The technology is described by an officer from the Aerorozvidka unit to The Times as follows: “We use Starlink equipment and connect the drone team with our artillery team,” he said. “If we use a drone with thermal vision at night, the drone must connect through Starlink to the artillery guy and create target acquisition.”
According to the Times, the Aerorozvidka team conducts around 300 information-gathering missions per day. Per the publication, assaults are carried out at night since the drones, some of which are outfitted with thermal cameras, are nearly impossible to spot in the dark.
Many possible uses
The Starlink satellites are designed to bring internet to underserved areas remote from major cities. It was addressed the possibility of employing satellites to deliver information to individuals in areas where the internet is restricted. Few expected it to be used in a European war zone, where one of the aggressor’s first activities was to target and destroy power sources and internet links as soon as the intervention began.
Ukrainians now have — or have recovered — access to information. According to The Telegraph, Starlink is one of Ukraine’s most prominent app downloads, allowing more than 100,000 individuals to remain informed about the conflict and communicate with the outside world.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine utilizes the Starlink satellites to deliver speeches to the Ukrainian people and national legislatures throughout the world. Except for its military utility, Starlink has become critical to Ukraine, both in terms of securing international backing and sustaining the people’s unbreakable opposition.
Target for Russia?
With Russia attempting to demolish Ukrainian infrastructure, notably power and the internet, the link will likely become even more critical in the next weeks and months. This, of course, implies that Russian troops will be targeting Starlink receiving dishes, which are not quite inconspicuous.
However, the greatest risk is that the receiving gear could be geolocated during use. “Turn on Starlink only when needed and place antenna as far away from people as possible.” Musk posted soon after the first terminals were supplied in early March.
In addition to targeted strikes, Russia appears to be attempting to restrict internet connectivity from space by using jammers. However, SpaceX claims to have a remedy: Musk claimed on Twitter that a new software update reduces power consumption and allows for the bypass of jamming transmitters.
Musk’s backing for Ukraine is seen as an act of hostility by the Kremlin. Starlink’s actions were labeled “interference” by Dmitry Rogozin, the director of Russia’s space agency Roscosmos. Elon Musk enters with his Starlink, which was formerly labeled entirely civilian, when Russia executes its highest national interests on Ukrainian territory, he claimed on state-funded Russian network RT.
Musk’s retort was as sharp as always. He wrote, “Ukraine civilian Internet was experiencing strange outages – bad weather perhaps? – so SpaceX is helping fix it.”