The Pentagon signed a deal with SpaceX to buy Starlink satellite internet for Ukraine amid the ongoing Russia war. It will include purchase of Starlink user terminals and monthly subscription services for the Ukrainian military. The United States Defense Department (DoD) will purchase these terminals as part of the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which aims to meet the long-term security needs of the embattled nation. However, the DoD has not yet disclosed how much it paid SpaceX for the Starlink services that will be sent to Ukraine.
Since February 2022, SpaceX has delivered around 22,000 Starlink Kits to Ukraine, which includes a phased array antenna and Wi-Fi router to access the broadband satellite internet wirelessly. According to SpaceX founder Elon Musk, his company spent nearly $20 million per month maintaining satellite services in Ukraine, and about $80 million to enable Starlink across the war-torn country when the invasion started. Starlink teams also worked to prioritize protection against cyberattacks. In October 2022, Musk said that the company could not pay for the service “indefinitely” after SpaceX wrote to the U.S. government requesting help with paying for existing Starlink service subscriptions. The government did not immediately approve the funding at that time, so Musk decided to continue his support for Ukrainians despite his company losing millions – “[...] Even though Starlink is still losing money & other companies are getting billions of taxpayer $ [money], we’ll just keep funding [the] Ukraine govt [government] for free,” wrote Musk via Twitter last year.
Now, the U.S. government agreed to pay for the Starlink service in Ukraine as part of the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative. “We continue to work with a range of global partners to ensure Ukraine has the resilient satellite and communication capabilities they need,” the U.S. Department of Defense said in a statement on Thursday, June 1st, according to multiple reports. “Satellite communications constitute a vital layer in Ukraine’s overall communications network and the department contracts with Starlink for services of this type.” Due to the “critical nature of these systems” and the need for operational security, the Pentagon refrained from providing further details – “[...] We do not have additional information regarding specific capabilities, contracts or partners to provide at this time,” the press statement said.
U.S. military officials have acknowledged the crucial role played by portable Starlink terminals in Ukraine since Russia's invasion. These terminals have kept the civilian population connected and provided vital communications for the country's military forces to try their best to keep the civilian population safe. As of today, the United States has provided over $75 billion in assistance to Ukraine, including humanitarian (food, medical, etc), weapons, and other assets since the initiation of Russia's invasion in February 2022.
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About the Author
Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.