After a reportedly disastrous attempt at using electromagnetic warfare to shut down SpaceX’s Starlink internet connection to Ukraine, Russia is no longer conducting electromagnetic attacks in the ongoing Ukrainian conflict. Now, the Pentagon has said the US has much to learn from private companies to protect state intelligence from the same types of attack.
Giving an address at the C4ISRNET Conference on Wednesday, Dave Tremper, electronic warfare director for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, suggested that the US needs to get much better at handling this type of warfare and praised the startling speed at which SpaceX was able to shut down the attack.
Towards the beginning of the invasion, Musk announced that Starlink had sent thousands of terminals over to Ukraine and realigned satellites to provide the country with much-needed Internet access after Russia began the invasion with a large cyber-attack on communications satellites. Shortly after, Musk tweeted that “Starlink, at least so far, has resisted all hacking & jamming attempts.”
That isn’t from lack of trying on Russia’s part – according to Dave Tremper, Russia launched an electromagnetic attack on the Starlink satellites in an attempt to jam them. Starlink engineers were able to reconnect the systems with just a “single line of code”, reacting to the attack at a blistering pace and nullifying what was Russia’s best attempt at taking down the connection.
“From an EW technologist perspective, that is fantastic. That paradigm and how they did that is kind of eye-watering to me,” said Dave Tremper, reports Breaking Defense.
“The way that Starlink was able to upgrade when a threat showed up, we need to be able to have that ability. We have 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.”
He goes on to explain that the Pentagon does things slightly differently and certainly less efficiently, in which they would need to identify the problem and then contract a solution, a process that takes significantly longer than an in-house fix. As the landscape of warfare changes from who has the bigger bomb to who can send the enemies’ systems offline, the Pentagon needs to be able to respond to threats as they occur, not after the fact. Tremper says the US must now invest in creating new technologies in response to emerging threats, and not just the re-hashing of older tech.
[H/T: Defense News]