Musk’s Starlink satellites being used by Ukrainian drones to destroy Russian tanks

Elon Musk activates SpaceX Starlink service over Ukraine

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As Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces invade Ukraine, Ukrainian soldiers are using Elon Musk’s technology to combat Russian tanks. Aerorozvidka, a specialist air-reconnaissance unit within the Ukrainian army is currently employing Starlink satellites to power its attacks on sleeping Russian tank operators.

Starlink is a constellation of satellites created by SpaceX, with the aim of launching satellite internet coverage that will one day span the entire globe.

In 2021 the number of satellites launched by SpaceX reached more than 2,000, which will communicate with ground-based transceivers.

Now Mr Musk has activated the network in Ukraine, and pledged “more terminals en route”.

An air specialist from the military unit revealed that the Ukrainian military has been connecting to Musk’s satellite network to allow their technology to lock onto enemy targets.

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.”

In addition to the drones being modified with thermal cameras to identify Russian tanks at night, they are equipped with anti-tank grenades.

The unit has destroyed dozens of “priority targets” including tanks, command trucks, and other vehicles in nighttime raids, The Times reported.

Yaroslav Honchar, the unit commander based in Kyiv said: “We strike at night, when Russians sleep.”

An Aerorozvidka leader told The Times: “If we use a drone with thermal vision at night, the drone must connect through Starlink to the artillery guy and create target acquisition.”

The unit uses an advanced NATO-supported intelligence system, Delta, to precisely identify targets.

The activation of Starlink came after Ukraine’s First Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov asked for help.

He said Ukraine had been battling sustained cyberattacks from Russia.

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Tweeting to Mr Musk, Mr Fedorov said: “While you try to colonize Mars — Russia try to occupy Ukraine! While your rockets successfully land from space — Russian rockets attack Ukrainian civil people!

“We ask you to provide Ukraine with Starlink stations and to address sane Russians to stand.”

Responding Mr Musk said: “Starlink service is now active in Ukraine. More terminals en route.”

Mr Fedorov said: “Starlink terminals are coming to Ukraine! Thank you, Elon Musk, thank you everyone who supported Ukraine!”

This isn’t the first time Starlink has aided a nation, with work currently underway to restore internet access in Tonga, following a volcanic eruption on January 15.

However, earlier this month, Mr Musk warned that the Starlink terminals could be targeted as the invasion heightens.

He wrote: “Important warning: Starlink is the only non-Russian communications system still working in some parts of Ukraine, so the probability of being targeted is high.

“Please use with caution.”

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