The US Department of Defense will support a project that develops quantum technology in order to make more responsive and accurate weapon systems possible.

The US Department of Defense will support a project that develops quantum technology in order to make more responsive and accurate weapon systems possible.

The US Department of Defense wants to use quantum computing for military applications because it has the potential to revolutionise conventional physics concepts. The DoD declared on June 14 that it would support a project that would advance the use of quantum technology in kinetic weapon systems.

According to the DoD, this capability based on quantum mechanics will “enable greater precision at longer range, lower collateral damage, and more agile platforms.”

Quantum computers store data and run calculations using the principles of quantum physics.

The Army Research Laboratory-led project team was selected by the DoD as the winner of the 2024 Applied Research for Advancement of Science and Technology Priorities programme award competition. The project team is researching quantum constructs to revolutionise precision weapons.

Out of nine projects, the CLassical quantum hybrid constructs to Advance Weapons Systems (CLAWS) project was chosen as one of three to receive DoD funding.

The selection of the winners was based on a number of criteria, including eligibility for funding for applied research, the capacity to fill a particular technology or capability gap, the ability to improve collaboration across the DoD, the presentation of a realistic programme plan, and the ability to show a direct path from research to product fielding.

The team will collaborate with academia and business to transform emerging technologies into game-changing capabilities in fields like imaging, positioning, navigation, timing, and quantum as part of the three-year, $45 million project.

We have not yet fully utilised quantum technology; according to GlobalData, a reputable intelligence consulting firm, quantum supremacy is at least ten years away.

It will be years before any quantum computer can run Shor’s or Grover’s algorithms at any scale that can resolve industrial problems. These algorithms run on a quantum computer and increase its efficiency over any classical algorithm.

Researchers in quantum computing will create algorithms for quantum simulators in the interim. These algorithms can be applied to noisy, intermediate-scale quantum (NISQ) devices, conventional computers, or a combination of both.

For this reason, the CLAWS team intends to create a hybrid strategy that will enhance the general functionality of existing weapon systems.

In the upcoming years, modular systems will progress, becoming incrementally more potent and resilient with each generation, as well as noisy intermediate-scale quantum (NISQ) devices.

Just as the CLAWS team hopes quantum will play an optimising role within its weapon systems, they will offer some quantum edge in optimisation applications and start operating in hybrid systems.

Directed energy weapons (DEW), particularly in air defences, are currently at the forefront of precision fire support.

According to GlobalData intelligence, despite the widespread use of unmanned aerial systems, drone swarming techniques, and the introduction of hypersonic missiles, these novel techniques have prompted some observers to question whether DEW could serve as an effective deterrent to these new technologies.

In light of this, the DoD’s decision to support a hybrid quantum approach will aid in the market’s recovery. According to GlobalData, the quantum industry is currently experiencing a slowdown in investment due to “fiendishly difficult engineering problems and excess hype.”