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Elon Musk's Starlink satellites are helping Ukraine's drone unit destroy Russian tanks, trucks at night

Business Insider US
Elon Musk's Starlink satellite system is deployed by Ukraine's elite drone unit in the war against Russia.
  • Ukrainian drones modified with thermal cameras target Russian military vehicles at night.
  • The Starlink internet system ensures drone teams can work even amid internet or power outages.
  • SpaceX CEO Elon Musk sent Starlink terminals to Ukraine upon request by a government official.
  • For more stories visit Business Insider.

Elon Musk's Starlink satellite system is helping an elite Ukrainian drone unit destroy Russian weaponry, according to The Times of London.

The Aerorozvidka specialist air reconnaissance unit operates drones modified with thermal cameras to see Russian military vehicles like tanks and command trucks at night, The Times of London reported on Friday. The drones have been modified to drop anti-tank grenades on targets, per the newspaper.

"If we use a drone with thermal vision at night, the drone must connect through Starlink to the artillery guy and create target acquisition," an Aerorozvidka leader told The Times of London.

The Starlink internet system ensures drone teams can work even if there are internet or power outages — which are rife in war-torn Ukraine.

On February 26, Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine's vice prime minister, asked Musk on Twitter to send Starlink terminals to Ukraine. Musk complied, writing back to Fedorov on Twitter a day later that Starlink service had been activated in Ukraine and more terminals were en route. 

Ukraine has received at least four shipments of Starlink terminals since March 1, according to Fedorov's tweets.

The Ukrainian official last tweeted about a new batch of Starlink terminals arriving in the country on Saturday.

Ukraine has also received internet antennas from European allies, Fedorov told The Washington Post in an interview on Friday.

"The quality of the link is excellent," Fedorov told WaPo through a translator. "We are using thousands, in the area of thousands, of terminals with new shipments arriving every other day," he added to the media outlet via a Starlink connection from an undisclosed location.

On March 4, Musk warned Starlink users in Ukraine to turn on the system "only when needed," as they may be targeted in the ongoing war.

Even though security is a concern, Russian hackers have not yet been disrupting the technology, Fedorov told The Post.

"They currently appear to be very busy attacking the websites of our small towns and villages," he told the newspaper. "I think they're just not at that point yet."

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