U.S. Air Force to Use SpaceX Starlink in Africa and Europe, Spend $1.9 Million

The U.S. Air Force recently announced it will spend $1.9 million on SpaceX’s Starlink internet to support operations in Europe and Africa.

SpaceX was awarded the contract on July 22, 2022, and the document was made public recently, as noted by Politico.

“The general requirement is a commercial satellite internet solution using Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite with available services in Europe and Africa to support the mission of the 86 Air Lift Wing and its tenant units,” explains the contract.

“The intent of the contract is to provide either First-Generation or High-Performance satellite terminals and internet service either static/fixed site or portable/mobile to the terminals enabling users to connect devices to the internet. The expected throughput capabilities to be delivered by the Starlink high-performance terminal is up to 500Mbps download speed and low latency connectivity. The contractor shall provide internet service support for a period of performance of twelve (12) months estimated to begin 01 August 2022 – 31 July 2023,” explains the Air Force contract.

The total cost of the 12-month Starlink service is pegged at $1,923,550, with estimated delivery dates of hardware expected 14 calendar days from its contract award date.

The Air Force notes other low Earth orbit satellite internet companies do not offer commercial operations in Europe and Africa, specifically naming Amazon Kuiper, OneWeb, Telesat. Only SpaceX’s Starlink has a commercial offering for Europe and Africa at the moment, says the Air Force, saying Elon Musk’s company “currently has the most well-established LEO satellite network with more than 1,350 satellites.”

The U.S. government also points out Starlink is the only satellite internet network provider being used in Ukraine.

“Starlink LEO fulfills the requirement of reducing processing times and increases theater based operations on changing requirements and locations. It also builds in circuit resiliency through Software Defined Wide Area networking (SDWAN) for one of the units allowing for multiple transport sources. After extensive research it was found that SpaceX-Starlink is the only vendor able to provide this specialized communication service in the current areas of operation in the required time,” concluded the Air Force.

This isn’t the first time the U.S. Air Force has tested Starlink. Back in April, week-long high-speed communications and connectivity tests were conducted at the Hill Air Force Base in Utah by cyber Airmen from the 388th Fighter Wing’s Operations Support Squadron.

Yesterday, SpaceX launched its 3,000th Starlink satellite into lower Earth orbit, completing its 55th mission for the satellite internet service.