Warfare Gets the Quantum Edge

The Australian | 29 May 2019

China’s Chengdu J-20 Black Eagle Stealth Fighter

Scientists in Australia are plying the subatomic realm for a range of new defence applications. Wilson da Silva reports.

EVEN WARFARE is going quantum: in Australia, researchers have started plying the subatomic realm for a range of possible defence applications that might well help the nation capture, or at least maintain, regional superiority in the sky, land and sea.

Most of the research is backed by the Australian Department of Defence’s ambitious Next Generation Technology Fund, managed by the Defence Science and Technology Group, an Australian research agency responsible for the development of emerging technologies for the military, which is spending A$730 million to upgrade Australia’s military might by pushing technologies hard in order to develop novel solutions to a range of battlefield challenges.

Of the 11 multi-year projects seeking to exploit the often-spooky effects of quantum mechanics, four are under development by the Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing (IPAS) at the University of Adelaide. Among them, quantum radar to detect stealth aircraft; portable atomic clocks for use in a battlefield when GPS is knocked out by an adversary; and a quantum magnetometer array for anti-submarine warfare.

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