US: Pentagon mulls utilising SpaceX to build a fleet of militarised Starships

In US, the Pentagon is considering utilising Elon Musk's rockets to deploy a rapid reaction force to foil a future Benghazi-style attack, according to publicly available documents published by the Pentagon. The United States Transportation Command, or USTRANSCOM, a Pentagon organisation responsible with moving cargo to American global military installations, announced a partnership with SpaceX to investigate the viability of launching supplies into space and returning them to Earth rather than flying them. According to a USTRANSCOM press release, SpaceX's rocket technology could one day "rapidly transfer key supplies during time-sensitive crises" and "provide humanitarian relief." While the Pentagon intimated that these space launches could be utilised to transport "people," the emphasis of the announcement was on cargo transfer.

According to internal documents, USTRANSCOM highlighted both potential uses for a fleet of military Starships in a 2021 "Midterm Report" written as part of the cooperation with SpaceX.

According to Army Gen. Stephen Lyons' presentation, "the goal would be to fly a C-17 [cargo plane] equivalent anywhere on the globe in less than 60 minutes"

SpaceX is already a defence contractor

SpaceX is already a defence contractor, having launched American military satellites and bolstering Ukrainian communication ties with Starlink recently. According to the report, the second hypothesis is that SpaceX rockets could deliver an Air Force deployable air base system, which is a collection of shelters, vehicles, construction equipment, and other gear that can be prepositioned around the globe and moved to any place the USAF needs to stand-up air operations.

The third scenario, titled only "Embassy Support scenarios," suggests that a "rapid theatre direct delivery capability from the United States to an African bare base would prove extremely important in supporting the Department of State's mission in Africa," possibly including the use of a "quick reaction force," a military term for a rapidly deployed armed unit, typically used in crisis conditions.

Though the scenario is vague and lacking in details, the idea of an African embassy being attacked by a "non-state actor" is reminiscent of the 2012 Benghazi incident in Libya, when armed militants attacked an American diplomatic compound, prompting a quick response force that was later criticised for arriving too late to help.

Image: AP