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Pentagon collaborates with SpaceX to block unauthorized Russian use of Starlink

Despite ongoing challenges, the Pentagon and SpaceX have “wrapped their heads around” and found solutions to prevent Russia from exploiting Starlink’s commercial communications system.
Ukrainian serviceman installs Starlink. Credit: Armed Forces of Ukraine
Pentagon collaborates with SpaceX to block unauthorized Russian use of Starlink

The Pentagon has partnered with Elon Musk’s SpaceX to block the Russian military’s unauthorized use of Starlink internet terminals on the battlefield in Ukraine.

According to Bloomberg, John Plumb, the outgoing assistant secretary for space policy John Plumb said “We have been heavily involved in working with the government of Ukraine and SpaceX to counter Russian illicit use of Starlink terminals.”

“At this time we have successfully countered Russian use, but I am certain Russia will continue to try and find ways to exploit Starlink and other commercial communications systems,” he added.

Some Western media reported in March that Russian forces may be using Starlink devices despite US sanctions prohibiting Russia’s use of Starlink. Russia reportedly purchased Starlink Internet terminals in Arab countries for its military to use in Ukraine.

Bloomberg reported in March that “Starlink‘s operator SpaceX should be able to prevent Russia from using Starlink in occupied Ukraine as SpaceX should be able to identify every Starlink transmitter.” However, the company said that its operator aerospace company SpaceX has “never shipped, marketed, or sold Starlink’s services or equipment to Russia.”

According to Plumb, the Pentagon “found good solutions with both Starlink and Ukraine.” However, he didn’t reveal the specific tactics.

Bloomberg also mentions Senator Elizabeth Warren’s recent letter urging the Pentagon to rein in Starlink’s unauthorized use in Russia and other regions, citing national security concerns.

Plumb acknowledged the potential for future competition in the commercial space sector, stating, “More competition will emerge over this decade,” including alternatives to Starlink’s satellite constellation.

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