SpaceX’s Starlink antennas have been of great help to Ukraine’s military in coordinating efforts to repel Russia’s invasion. Apparently the Russian military feels the same way, as it has contracted a weapons company to develop a detector for such antennas. According to Sestroretsk Arms Factory, its new Borshchevik system can find satellite internet antennas with very high accuracy.
Starlink Borschchevik antenna detector could be used in Ukraine war
Such a “weapon” in Russia’s arsenal could identify Ukrainian bases of operations and be used in the coordination of high-precision attacks, either ground or air. According to Sestroretsk, Borshchevik can identify an antenna with accuracy between 5 and 60 meters, which is less accurate than a geolocation system such as GPS, but still accurate enough for military effectiveness.
The range of a Borshchevik device is 10 kilometers, which means that reconnaissance units don’t even have to be in very close proximity to the antenna to identify it.
Sestroretsk’s recommended use case is positioning the antenna “detector” between the target and the artillery. Once the Starlink antenna is detected, the artillery receives the coordinates and can begin the attack.
The problem here is that in Ukraine, Starlink antennas are not used exclusively by military agencies. Ukraine also uses Starlink for Internet access among non-military state agencies, and even civilians have such antennas installed in their homes. Thus the use of this technology in the conflict could lead to further civilian casualties.
Of course, we have no guarantee that this system actually works. Given that there is an embargo against Russia for advanced technologies such as microchips, which are certainly needed in the development of an antenna detector, it is hard to believe that there is the capacity to develop too many such devices, or that it actually exists and is not a purely theoretical product.