Pentagon Wants Quantum Computing As Key Weapon For Space Wars

As of recent, the world’s dominant military powers realize that the next battleground could be in Low Earth orbit (LEO). China, Russia, and the United States are all preparing for the possibility that a space war could be on the horizon, which has pushed the Pentagon into examining quantum computing as a crucial weapon for improved security for data storage and transmission on space-based military hardware.

Earlier this month, top Pentagon official Michael Griffin had a meeting with Air Force researchers at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio to address the future of quantum computing in outer space. Griffin, the undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, has indicated quantum computers and related applications rank fairly high on the Pentagon’s must-do R&D investments, said SpaceNews.

Quantum computing is one of many technologies where the Pentagon is seriously behind the curve while China continues to progress. The technology is already present in silicon valley for many civilian applications, as military officials now want to transfer the technology into its spacecraft. SpaceNews specifies the Air Force is mainly concentrated on what is known as quantum information science.

China’s 600-kilogram quantum satellite contains a crystal that produces entangled photons. (Source: Cai Yang/Xinhua via ZUMA Wire) 

“We see this as a very disruptive technology,” said Michael Hayduk, chief of the computing and communications division at the Air Force Research Laboratory.

“Artificial intelligence algorithms, highly secure encryption for communications satellites and accurate navigation that does not require GPS signals are some of the most coveted capabilities that would be aided by quantum computing,” explained SpaceNews.

Earlier this month, Hayduk spoke with the Defense Innovation Board (DIB), a blend of tech executives and researchers who advise the secretary of defense. The DIB gathered at the Pentagon’s Silicon Valley location, the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental, and spoke about the need of transitioning quantum information science technologies into the military’s hands.

“Quantum computers are the newest generation of supercomputers — powerful machines with a new approach to processing information. Quantum information science is the application of the laws of quantum mechanics to information science,” Hayduk explained. “Unlike traditional computers that are made of bits of zero or one, in quantum computers bits can have both values simultaneously, given them unprecedented processing power.”

“The Air Force is taking this very seriously, and we’ve invested for quite a while,” Hayduk said.

The Pentagon finds the technology quite appealing when it comes to protecting hardware from GPS denied environments. “It’s a key area we’re very much interested in,” said Hayduk.

He noted that some of these technologies could take years to materialize. “In timing and sensing, we see prototype capabilities in a five-year timeframe.” Communications systems and networks for spacecraft would take even longer. Much of these technologies could be deployed by the mid-2020s.

No GPS signal, no problem: quantum clocks are viewed as an alternative to GPS, said Hayduk. “We’re looking at GPS-like precision in denied environments,” he said. “It often takes several updates to GPS throughout the day to synchronize platforms. We want to be able to move past that, so if we are in a denied environment, we can still stay synchronized.”

Meanwhile, China is “very serious,” he warned, adding that the Pentagon is actively monitoring other nations’ investment dollars in the quantum computing field. China could be spending $10 billion to $15 billion over the next five years on R&D. SpaceNews even said China has already developed quantum satellites that cannot be hacked.

Video: Quantum satellite achieves ‘spooky action’ at a record distance

“They have demonstrated great technology,” said Hayduk. In the U.S., “we have key pieces in place. But we’re looking at more than imitating what China is doing in ground satellite communications. We’re looking at the whole ecosystem: ground, air, space, and form a true network around that.”

Other countries have been exploring quantum computing for the coming space wars. The United Kingdom is planning a $400 million program for quantum-based sensing and timing. A similar project by the European Union is projected to be worth $1 billion over ten years. Canada, Australia, and Israel also have notable programs. Hayduk said the countries listed are mostly national government programs, “which is very different than what the U.S. has now.”

The Air Force Research Laboratory expects to play a “key role in developing software and algorithms to drive applications,” he added.

The next war between major powers is likely to be fought in LEO, or, at a minimum, have a space-based component. While Washington could, in fact, be way behind the curve in intergrating this technology to its space-based hardware, Congress has recently proposed an $800 million funding line in the Pentagon’s budget over the next five years for quantum projects. The current state of affairs of America’s military is riddled with gaps, inconsistencies, and vulnerabilities, which is explained by the decades of unwinnable wars in the Middle East and 800 military bases around the world to thwart the Empire from collapse.

If the endless wars do not bankrupt this country, it still seems we [US] could be severely lagging behind in technological advances before the next space war breaks out. American exceptionalism is dying.


halcyon Wed, 07/18/2018 - 01:07 Permalink

China will take the lead on quantum computing, because they have no old semi-industry baggage to protect, and they are throwing everything and the kitchen sink at quantum computing.

AI still only exists in military men's wet dreams. It is still only machine learning.


Stuck on Zero DownWithYogaPants Wed, 07/18/2018 - 08:44 Permalink

No one has shown that quantum computing exists yet. Calculations by some really big minds have shown that noise considerations render the concept of quantum computing impossible. There's the KT issue and the energy/bit issue to overcome. The more qubits you entangle the greater the noise and you end up using all the bits for error correction. Combinatorics is such a bitch.

In reply to by DownWithYogaPants

J. Peasemold G… halcyon Wed, 07/18/2018 - 01:19 Permalink

Some innovative work being done in Switzerland and Australia in the quantum field of late.

But alas, it will be stolen by very well funded 'Winnie Xi Poo' operatives, "students", "researchers", and corrupt politicians in all countries.

And as the IP vanishes into the 'quantum' trial city of Jinan on the mainland, and the quantum secured link between Han cities grows ever outwards, the days of the basement hacker are numbered.


J. Peasemold Gruntfuttock

In reply to by halcyon

Space_Cowboy halcyon Wed, 07/18/2018 - 02:30 Permalink

It would not surprise me in the least if the NSA already had quantum computing capabilities using some form of AI to scan the immense amount of data they gather and sift through.  The only catch is keeping the AI contained in some form, which I honestly have no idea how they would carry that out.  Plus, blockchain encryption technology (running on SHA 256) is screwed if quantum computing is implemented to crack any key.  The Silicon Valley giants might have some rudimentary form of AI hidden in their own dark projects, that would not surprise me either; also, those tech corporations (FANG) and the MIC are hand in glove, as most know on on these comments.

You make a good point about machine learning algorithms because "AI" is the marketing buzzword all of these crypto/blockchain projects and others are trying to use to sound like they're at the cutting edge.  Last time I checked, the official definition of "AI" means that it has to be of synthetic creation, sentient, and pass Turing's test.  Again, the fancy toys are developed and handed out to the MIC first for intelligence-gathering and potential military applications; and then eventually (maybe up to 30 years later) sifted down through US corporations and subsidiaries for the masses.

In reply to by halcyon

EndOfDayExit Wed, 07/18/2018 - 01:13 Permalink

As of today "quantum computing" is mostly just complex matrix math on paper. There is no technology yet to implement it at a scale large enough to produce non-trivial results.

It does make for a nice hype though, no question.


I Write Code Wed, 07/18/2018 - 01:17 Permalink

I'm not sure that any and all quantum entanglement is "computing".

I might barely believe in quantum cryptography, I'm not sure I believe in quantum computing at all.  Analog computation, sure, if that's all it means, but that would be a *lot* of false advertising.

If EPR/Aspect stuff ever is really proven, I expect it will also prove the existence of "pilot waves" that cannot be proven to move faster than the speed of light.  I know there are (longstanding) claims, but show me something that really works and then I'll believe.


jin187 A Sentinel Wed, 07/18/2018 - 02:38 Permalink

Quantum computing has been a thing for 30 years now.  It's simply too expensive and difficult to produce a useful one.  It's just exponentially more cost-effective to glue a bunch of CPU's together in a cloud, and so quantum computing has been on the back burner.  It's the same reason we don't have flying cars.  Doing so is a huge waste of time and resources to solve a problem that doesn't exist.

Once we reach the point where relativity is a bottleneck to increasing computing power that we can no longer workaround, or someone finds a way to do it cheaper, then serious resources will be devoted to quantum computing.  Until then, it's just something to be played around with using black budgets and research grants.

In reply to by A Sentinel

Dr. Acula I Write Code Wed, 07/18/2018 - 05:40 Permalink

> If EPR/Aspect stuff ever is really proven, I expect it will also prove the existence of "pilot waves" that cannot be proven to move faster than the speed of light.

I think you're grasping at straws. I gave up a few years ago based on the new experimental findings. The loopholes in Bell test experiments have pretty much been closed, AFAICT. Superluminal entanglement is proven experimentally.

Superdeterminism is still viable

especially since implies eternalism.

In reply to by I Write Code

godzila Wed, 07/18/2018 - 01:21 Permalink

Might be another new low for ZH - and as of late this is not a small achievement.

Complete and utter alarmist nonsense. 

Sure quantum computing is a thing - maybe it has reached some level of usability (although no open source information could even remotely back such an assertion) and would be a game changer in many fields. But there is absolutely zero evidence that China is having an edge here.

J. Peasemold G… godzila Wed, 07/18/2018 - 01:38 Permalink

Wafm is on the ball.……

Even back in 2014:…

Jinan is a place to watch (Jinan Institute of Quantum Technology).

And I note: 'funded by the central government and has been supported by the Central Military Commission' means in effect unlimited resources.

You still have zero doubt 鬼佬 ?


J. Peasemold Gruntfuttock

In reply to by godzila

Chief Joesph Wed, 07/18/2018 - 01:44 Permalink

DoD already has Quantum computing.  They have a slug of Cray computers at various bases to do this,and particularly at the research lab.  Why are they asking for more? And why do we need to play the catch-up game with China on quantum computing?

 All computers, from cell phones to cray computers have one achilles heel.  That is their power supply.  Disrupt that, and they don't work, no matter how sophisticated they are. 

How do you make power supplies fail?  Electro-magnetically.  After all, we know eruptions on the sun can do it, and radical changes in the earth's magnetic field, or electromagnetism, can do it too. Even Tesla showed us, with his "tower of power", how to do it back in the 1890's.  Want to knock out GPS satellites in geosynchronous orbit 25,000 miles out, a 1 megaton nuclear burst at that distance would set up an electromagnetic pulse that would effectively burn up their electronics of a good number of them within a 24 degree arc.  That has already been established. 

But the big problem is, both the Russians and Chinese know the U.S. relies too heavily on our own satellite communications, tracking, and GPS. The need for quantum computing does really little to protect that, nor is it much of a substitute when you are competing with countries that have it too.  It will take DoD trillions of dollars and years to figure that out.

pizdowitz Wed, 07/18/2018 - 01:49 Permalink

Quantum computing??? That could be even a better racket, than the old-fashioned bang-bang wars, or the man-made global warming... Costs more, yet you even do not need to show anything for it...

Not even the blessed Einstein could have come up with a  better bullshit...

Masher1 Wed, 07/18/2018 - 02:10 Permalink

Every single communication of import is encrypted.... The past, the now and the future are just waiting for the big iron to step up. Quantum might be a tool to crack those messages of import... It's called a race.


Every other concern in regard Quantum computing is secondary to cracking crypto, And Ho-Lee-Fuk there is a big assed mountain just waiting to be seen in the clear.


You would not believe.....

moobra Wed, 07/18/2018 - 05:14 Permalink

A rellie is doing a PhD in neural nets. Only white guy there. Others are all chinese. Don't worry, all progress is being sent back to Beijing and we even pay them in US dollars in their government job,

Davidduke2000 Wed, 07/18/2018 - 05:46 Permalink

the pentagon has been trying since Reagan star wars and $ trillions of dollars spent yet they show nothing for.

ships that look nice but cannot stand big waves and now we learn that they need new engines.

F35 that kills its own pilots and is outdone by the Russian relic MIG21.

while the propaganda keep the american people feeling safe, duck and covers comes to mind.