The U.S. military needs to take a page out of SpaceX's book in combating electromagnetic warfare, as Elon Musks's aerospace company has notched "eye-watering" wins against Russian hackers in Ukraine, Pentagon officials said this week.
The first shipment of SpaceX's Starlink terminals, which connect to satellites in low-earth orbits, arrived in Ukraine just days after Russian forces invade the country and started disrupting internet service.
Earlier this month, 5,000 Starlink terminals were active in Ukraine, 3,667 of which were donated by SpaceX and 1,333 of which were purchased by the United States Agency for International Development.
Russian hackers attempted to jam the Starlink broadband internet service last month, but SpaceX was quickly able to respond and shut down their efforts, according to Dave Tremper, the director of electronic warfare for the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
"The next day [after reports about the Russian jamming effort hit the media], Starlink had slung a line of code and fixed it," Tremper said at the C4ISRNET Conference on Wednesday.
"And suddenly that [Russian jamming attack] was not effective anymore. From [the electromagnetic warfare] technologist’s perspective, that is fantastic … and how they did that was eye-watering to me."
Temper contrasted SpaceX's nimble counterpunch with the government, which he said has a "significant timeline to make those types of corrections."
"We need to be able to have that agility," Tremper said at the conference. "We need to be able to change our electromagnetic posture to be able to change, very dynamically, what we’re trying to do without losing capability along the way."
Because Starlink does not rely on traditional ground internet infrastructure, it's theoretically an ideal service in warzones, disaster situations, and other hard-to-reach areas.
SpaceX's Starlink service does not rely on traditional ground infrastructure to connect people to the internet, which makes it ideal in warzones and disaster situations.
Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov had reached out to Musk on Twitter in the early days of the war and the first shipment of terminals arrived in Ukraine within 48 hours.
Reuters contributed to this report.