Washington: The Pentagon is buying Starlink satellite communications terminals from billionaire Elon Musk’s SpaceX for use by the Ukraine military, the Defense Department said.
The terminals will likely be purchased with funds earmarked for by Congress for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which is intended to provide for the embattled nation’s long-term security needs. In December, the Defense Department disclosed that it would provide satellite communications “terminals and services” to Ukraine but didn’t confirm that Musk’s company would get the contract.
“We continue to work with a range of global partners to ensure Ukraine has the resilient satellite and communication capabilities they need,” the Pentagon said in a statement Thursday. “Satellite communications constitute a vital layer in Ukraine’s overall communications network and the department contracts with Starlink for services of this type.”
“However, for operational security reasons and due to the critical nature of these systems, we do not have additional information regarding specific capabilities, contracts, or partners to provide at this time,” it said.
US military officials have praised the role Starlink terminals have played in Ukraine after the Russian’s attack in keeping the civilian population connected and in providing crucial communications for the country’s military.
The statement was the latest twist in the Pentagon’s often contentious relationship with Musk over the terminals. At one point, last October Musk reportedly told the Pentagon that SpaceX wouldn’t continue to foot the bill for the portable terminals, only to reverse that position.