Un-jammable quantum tech to boost UK’s defence

In a first-of-its-kind achievement, the UK has successfully completed commercial flight trials of advanced quantum-based navigation systems that cannot be jammed or spoofed by hostile actors.

While GPS jamming is currently relatively rare and does not directly impact an aircraft’s flight path, new quantum-based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) systems could, over time, offer one part of a larger solution to providing highly accurate and resilient navigation that complements current satellite systems – which could help ensure that the thousands of flights that take place around the world daily, proceed without disruption.

Infleqtion, a quantum technology firm, in collaboration with aerospace companies BAE Systems and QinetiQ, completed the trials at MOD Boscombe Down in Wiltshire.

These tests are the first time that this sort of technology has been tested in the UK on an aircraft in flight, and the first such flights worldwide that have been publicly acknowledged.

The project has received backing of nearly £8 million from the government, aiming to cement the UK’s position as a leading quantum-enabled economy.

Science minister Andrew Griffith said: “From passenger flights to shipping, we all depend on navigation systems that are accurate, safe and secure. The scientific research we are supporting here on quantum technology could well provide the resilience to protect our interests.”

He said that it is proof the UK is “one of the world leaders on quantum.”

In a series of test flights, the team led by Infleqtion has demonstrated two ground-breaking quantum technologies: the compact Tiqker optical atomic clock and a tightly confined ultra-cold-atom-based quantum system.

The technology being tested on the flight will form part of a Quantum Inertial Navigation System (Q-INS), which has the potential to revolutionise PNT, with the system offering exceptional accuracy and resilience, independent of traditional satellite navigation using GPS.


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