Articles

Did China just develop a radar that can see through stealth technology?

A Chinese firm has reportedly developed next-generation radar technology with the ability to see through American stealth defenses.


The Intelligent Perception Technology Laboratory successfully developed China's first quantum radar system in August, several Chinese media outlets reported Sept. 8. The Laboratory is run by the 14th Institute of China Electronics Technology Group Corporation, a defense and electronic technology firm.

During real-world tests of China's new quantum radar system, it was able to detect targets 100 kilometers (62.1 miles) away.

Quantum radar systems offer unjammable aircraft detection.

The B-2 Spirit bomber is one of the most sophisticated military aircraft ever built. China says it has developed a radar that can help shoot it down. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)

Older radar systems can be rendered ineffective in a number of different ways. For instance, white noise can be used to drown out the radar frequency, or aircraft can deploy chaff countermeasures to create a false reflection and confuse the radar system. Newer radar systems can skirt these defenses; however, it is now possible to intercept the radar signal and send back false images.

If electromagnetic and stealth countermeasures are deployed effectively, traditional radar systems can't tell the difference between a floating piece of tin foil and a stealth fighter. Quantum radar systems cannot be so easily compromised though.

Mehul Malik, Omar S. Magana-Loaiza, and Robert W. Boyd, three researchers in the Institute of Optics at the University of Rochester in New York, determined in December 2012 that quantum-secured imaging could be used to develop an unjammable radar system.

"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," explained the three-man research team in a report. If a stealth aircraft attempts to jam a quantum radar system by intercepting the photons and sending back a false image, it will destabilize the signal and reveal an error, indicating that an enemy is trying to jam it.

[clickToTweet tweet="China says new single-photon quantum radar technology to become a "nemesis" for the American and Japanese air forces." quote="China expects its new single-photon quantum radar technology to become a "nemesis" for the American and Japanese air forces."]

China's KJ-2000 early warning and control aircraft, which uses X-band radar technology and Beidou satellites, can reportedly spot the F-22, but it is difficult for the KJ-2000 to lock onto stealth aircraft.

Quantum radar technology rectifies this problem. Chinese military experts suggest that once a stealth aircraft is detected by a quantum radar system, it won't be able to escape elimination by air defense missiles, reports the People's Daily. China argues that its new quantum radar system will make stealth fighters like America's F-22 and Russia's T-50 completely visible to Chinese defense systems. Theoretically, this technology could also be used against a vast array of other stealth aircraft, including the F-35 and B-2.

China launched an unhackable quantum satellite last month. The launch was hailed as a breakthrough in quantum technology. China's development of a quantum radar system represents another great leap forward in Chinese quantum technology.

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