Armed Forces International News - December 2012

Unjammable Quantum-Based Radar Signal Breakthrough

Posted by Paul Fiddian - Armed Forces International's Lead Reporter on 17/12/2012 - 10:20:00

Unjammable Radar Signal

US-based researchers have created a radar signal that can't be intercepted, even by the world's most sophisticated jamming systems of the type fitted to Northrop B-2 Spirit ‘Stealth Bombers' and other low-visibility airborne platforms.

In the past, such systems used a range of techniques to stop data being transmitted between sources, such as chaff dispersal and noise-drowning but, increasingly, radar technologies have become too sophisticated to be beaten.

It's proved especially tricky but not impossible to intercept radar signals, modify them, then return them with false data but, now, a University of Rochester team has created a signal that can't be jammed, even in this way.

Unjammable Radar Signal

Their unjammable radar signal approach harnesses the quantum attributes of photons, specifically the fact that, whenever photons are measured, these quantum properties will always be wiped out.

These qualities lend themselves to unjammable radar signal creation in the following way. If an intercept attempt was made on photon-based signals, the photons would naturally be altered and the attempted jamming activity uncovered. In other words, try and jam this signal and you'll be found out.

'In order to jam our imaging system, the object must disturb the delicate quantum state of the imaging photons, thus introducing statistical errors that reveal its activity', explain the Rochester researchers.

Quantum Radar System

Already, the quantum radar system has been trialled, with positive results. During these trials, photons were streamed onto a target designed to resemble a B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber. The target successively intercepted the signals but wasn't able to modify and return them without being detected.

This system is still at an early developmental stage and needs fine-tuning before it could ever be successfully deployed by any of the world's militaries. Nonetheless, defence experts have recognised the significance of the work so far accomplished and Armed Forces International will revisit this topic in future News Items.

B-2 Spirit image copyright USAF - Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

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