World’s richest person Elon Musk deployed his Starlink internet service in war-ravaged Ukraine earlier this month to ease the country's internet outages and now the Ukrainians are using the service to target and destroy Russian armour, including tanks.
Starlink service works through portable terminals that are like small antennas that catch the internet being beamed to Earth from Musk’s constellation of satellites in space.
These devices can be used in remote locations as well as they bypass the conventional Earth-based infrastructure required to access the internet, such as cables and physical telephone exchanges. This has helped Ukrainians in setting up bases for their drone operations in rural areas from where they target the Russian military from the air.
Ukrainian drones are armed with anti-tank munitions and have been equipped with thermal cameras that allow them to operate at night as they function through heat signatures in the darkness.
Ukraine’s most sophisticated drones are connected using Starlink, according to The Times of London.
"If we use a drone with thermal vision at night, the drone must connect through Starlink to the artillery guy and create target acquisition," a Ukrainian officer was quoted as saying in The Times.
The officer added that they have been picking off Russian tanks, command trucks, and vehicles carrying electronic equipment since the invasion began, destroying dozens of priority targets.
The armoured elements of the Russian military, including tanks, have suffered greatly in the ongoing war in Ukraine. Open source intelligence suggests up to 10 per cent of all Russian tanks pressed into the invasion of Ukraine have been lost so far.
Footage has emerged online that shows Russian tanks being bombed by drones.
This video of a Russian military column coming under attack and retreating was geolocated to 50.587111, 30.837889 by @MrWolfih and confirmed by Bellingcat. Filmed in Brovary, northeast of Kyiv. https://t.co/fj8ukOgip0 pic.twitter.com/oc8dV4OOIR— Bellingcat (@bellingcat) March 10, 2022
The Russian commander of the tank unit in the footage above was killed in the Ukrainian assault, according to reports.
The war in Ukraine has highlighted the effectiveness of relatively affordable unmanned aerial vehicles as well as the vulnerability of traditional armoured assaults. Russian tactics of frontal assaults using closely packed tank units have also come under criticism.