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A top Pentagon official said SpaceX Starlink rapidly fought off a Russian jamming attack in Ukraine

Business Insider US
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. Starlink, the satellite-based internet provider, is a division of SpaceX. REUTERS/Mike Blake
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. Starlink, the satellite-based internet provider, is a division of SpaceX. REUTERS/Mike Blake
  • Elon Musk's SpaceX Starlink rapidly fought off a Russian jamming attack in Ukraine, a Pentagon official said.
  • The official said it would have taken the US military longer to counter the attack.
  • Starlink is helping Ukrainians stay online during Russia's invasion.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

A Pentagon official has detailed the speed at which Elon Musk's SpaceX Starlink fought off a Russian jamming attack in Ukraine.

On Wednesday, Dave Tremper, director of electronic warfare for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, told the C4ISRNET Conference that Starlink countered the attack faster than the US military would have been able to.

Starlink, the satellite-based internet division of SpaceX, has been helping Ukrainians stay online during Russia's invasion. SpaceX CEO Musk sent Starlink kits to Ukraine after Mykhailo Fedorov, the country's vice prime minister, requested help from the billionaire in late February.

Musk said on March 25 that Starlink had, at that point, "resisted all hacking and jamming attempts." Tremper's comments are thought to provide the first details of a Russian jamming attempt on Starlink's systems.

Tremper said that the day after reports of a Russian jamming attack emerged, "Starlink had slung a line of code and fixed it," and suddenly the attack "was not effective anymore." He said the countermeasure employed by Starlink was "fantastic," adding: "How they did that was eye-watering to me."

Tremper said the US had a "significant timeline to make those types of corrections," adding: "There's a really interesting case study to look at the agility that Starlink had in their ability to address that problem."

He continued: "In the way that Starlink was able to upgrade when a threat showed up, we need to be able to have that agility."

Brigadier-General Tad Clark, director of the Air Force's electromagnetic spectrum superiority, said at the conference that the US needed to build new systems for electromagnetic warfare that had more resilience and speed, so it could respond to threats in a "quick, lethal, and resilient manner."

A person familiar with Starlink's efforts in Ukraine told The Washington Post in late March that there were more than 5,000 Starlink terminals in the country.

Experts have told Insider that Starlink could pose a danger to users in Ukraine because of the distinctive dish and trackable radio signals.


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