SDF considering use of Starlink internet system

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The main gate of the Defense Ministry is seen in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The Defense Ministry is considering introducing the Starlink high-speed internet communications system, Jiji Press learned Saturday.

The ministry hopes to equip Maritime Self-Defense Force vessels engaged in long-term voyages with the system offered by U.S. aerospace company Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) to boost their telecommunications capabilities.

It aims to resolve the issue of manpower shortages in the MSDF by enabling crew members to communicate with their families using Starlink and hopefully reduce their stress while on voyages.

Related expenses will be included in the ministry’s budget request for fiscal 2023. The ministry will seek a swift implementation of the system.

Starlink achieves high-speed, high-capacity communications through a so-called satellite constellation, or a network of many satellites orbiting at altitudes of 2,000 kilometers or lower.

After Russia attacked its telecommunications network in its invasion, Ukraine was able to maintain internet connections thanks to SpaceX offering its Starlink system.

On some MSDF vessels, wireless local area network services are currently available in limited areas, allowing crew to send and receive emails and other data on their private smartphones.

But the internet speed is very slow, and only text data can be transmitted. Coupled with time restrictions for using the LAN services, the lack of adequate internet connections has led to dissatisfaction, especially among younger crew members.