You’ve heard of stealth aircraft—now meet stealth radar.
By Kyle Mizokami
Aug 26, 2019
Quantum radar, for decades merely a concept, was recently demonstrated at science institute in Austria.
Quantum radars can provide much more detailed information about their targets without giving away their position.
Contrary to claims, quantum radars do not make stealth obsolete.
A new high definition radar system that could change the nature of warfare has been demonstrated for the first time. The result, quantum radar, is a high definition detection system that provides a much more detailed image of targets while itself remaining difficult to detect. Quantum radars could provide users with enough detail to identify aircraft, missiles, and other aerial targets by specific model.
According to the MIT Technology Review, researchers at Austria’s Institute of Science and Technology used entangled microwaves to create the world’s first quantum radar system.
Under a principle known as quantum entanglement, two particles can be linked together regardless of distance. When something happens to one particle it can be noticed in the other particle, forming what scientists call a quantum entangled pair. This in turn leads to a process called quantum illumination, where information about one particle’s environment can be inferred by studying the other particle.
Quantum radars involve pairing photon particles together, shooting one downrange while keeping the second captive for observation. The downrange particle will act in a certain manner as it bounces off certain objects, behavior that can be observed in the captive particle. The result is much more detailed information about the target than seen in previous radars.
Today’s radars can detect targets very well, but provide little detail. Radars can detect an object and note its altitude, bearing, and distance, but otherwise the target is a big, featureless blob. Air defenders must rely on other things, such identifying radar and other electromagnetic signals emanating from the target, to discern whether the blob is an enemy fighter, bomber, or even a commercial civilian aircraft.
Quantum radars, on the other hand, could provide enough detail for radar systems to identify the object based on physical characteristics. A Su-35 Flanker-E fighter, for example, could be identified by the sweep of its wings, the shape of its nose, and the number of engines.
Another benefit of quantum radars: they emit very little energy and are thus difficult to detect. All contemporary radars emit electromagnetic radiation to detect objects. This radiation, while detectable, also makes the radar itself detectable. It’s a lot like having lots of people holding flashlights in a dark room: turning on your flashlight allows you to find other people but the flashlight beam leads straight back to you, giving away your presence and location.
A lack of detectability offers a distinct tactical advantage in warfare. A friendly quantum radar could detect a flight of enemy aircraft without revealing its own presence. This could cause the enemy warplanes to put off defensively jamming local radars and radio signals—which itself is noticeable to the defenders. Their guard down, they could then be ambushed by friendly air defense missiles and fighters waiting for them.
Quantum radars has been billed as a means for detecting stealth aircraft, with claims that it renders efforts to make aircraft invisible to radar useless. According to three experts polled by Engineering and Technology, anti-stealth claims are a “gross oversimplication” and the main advantage of quantum radar is the high definition aspect.
Source: MIT Technology Review
The device on the left of the above photo is China’s quantum radar to be displayed at this year’s Zhuhai Airshow.
On display will also be China’s other most advanced radars including microwave photonic-based radar and terahertz radar easy to detect and track stealth warplanes.
Source: mil.huanqiu.com “What a quantum radar looks like? A real quantum radar will be displayed to the world at China’s Zhuhai Airshow” (summary by Chan Kai Yee of the report in Chinese)
On December 16, 2016, I had a post titled “China’s Great Progress in Quantum Radar to Detect Stealth Warplane” on Chinese State-owned China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC)’s success in developing a quantum radar with the range of 100km, five times of the potential range of an overseas prototype.
Conventional radar beams radio wave and measure the wave bounced back to detect and track fighter jets. Stealth jets use the technology to reduce the radio wave bounced back to avoid detection by conventional radar.
Unlike conventional radar, quantum radar beams photons and measure the photons bounced back. As stealth jets cannot reduce the photons bounced back, they are easily detected and tracked by quantum radar.
Due to quantum radar’s ability to detect stealth jets, there is much interest in the world in developing quantum radar.
However, there is a major problem: the number of photons bounced back diminishes as the distance of the target increases so that the range of such radar is limited.
Today, SCMP says in its report “China’s latest quantum radar won’t just track stealth bombers, but ballistic missiles in space too” that according to CETC, quantum radar could “effectively monitor high-speed flying objects in the upper atmosphere and above.” CETC means that the radar can monitor ICBMs and SLBMs.
However, ICBMs have to be detected soon after they have entered upper atmosphere and above or there will be no time to intercept them due to their ver high speed. That is why the company said that the radar had to be installed on a near-space vehicle. Due to thin or no atmosphere in near space the number of photons bounced back does not decrease so seriously.
Then ideally the radar has to be installed on a space station but no country can install its quantum radar on the international space station as it does not have exclusive use of the station. China will soon establish its exclusive space station. It seems that when China has developed a quantum radar and installed on its space station, China will have the best missile defense in the world.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s report, full text of which can be found at http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2151086/chinas-latest-quantum-radar-wont-just-track-stealth.
SCMP says in its report “Can China’s quantum radar become even more powerful? Scientists may have found the key”, “Earlier this year, CETC (China Electronics Technology Group Corporation) announced the effective range of Chinese quantum radar technology had reached 100km, five times the potential range of an overseas prototype.
In addition, Chinese scientists have found ways to further improve their quantum radar.
Summary of SCMP’s report by Chan Kai Yee. Full text of the report can be found at http://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/2054501/chinese-scientists-show-how-extend-range-quantum-radar.
The 14th Research Institute of China Electronics Technology Group Corporation has developed China’s first quantum radar system based on single-quantum detection.
The Institute has joined force with the University of Science and Technology of China, the 27th Research Institute of China Electronics Technology Group Corporation, Nanjing University and other entities in the research and development of the radar.
Tests have proved that the radar can detect stealth fighter jets hundreds of km away in real atmosphere environment. As the radar consumes less energy, needs light platform to install, and is reliable and confidential in complicated electromagnetic environment, it has overcome traditional radar’s inability to detect targets of low visibility or survive in electronic warfare and significant loading requirement for its platform.
Sources say that the institute regards the success in making China’s first quantum radar as only the beginning that has laid foundation for the design, research, development and testing of further better microwave quantum radar.
Source: Chinanews.com “China succeeds in making first quantum radar that makes US stealth fight jet nowhere to flee” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese)