Air Force Continues Testing of SpaceX ‘Starlink’ Satcom Operations With Aircraft

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The U.S. Air Force’s Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation office has tested the use of broadband communications through SpaceX’s Starlink satellites to help operate C-12J Huron turboprop aircraft, Space News reported Tuesday. SDPE’s “Defense Experimentation Using the Commercial Space Internet” effort saw download speeds of 610 megabits per second throughout the series of tests.

The Air Force and SpaceX first announced plans to test Starlink’s capacity for interoperability with C-12 aircraft in October. Greg Spanjers, chief scientist at the SDPE office, said the service is “not just focused on any one company” and seeks to work with satellite communications providers for services in low and medium-Earth orbit.

Brian Beal, program manager for the Air Force, noted that the service seeks to install a Starlink terminal onto an AC-130 gun-attack aircraft. The Air Force also plans to facilitate a similar demonstration on a KC-135 tanker. “We are setting up prototypes so we are ready as soon as the commercial offers are ready,” he said.

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