DOD Officials Discuss Quantum Science, 5G and Directed Energy
MARCH 9, 2021 | BY DAVID VERGUN, DOD NEWS
Three of the Defense Department’s 11 principal directors of modernization within the Office of Defense Research and Engineering, discussed quantum science, 5G and directed energy.
The three are responsible for informing senior DOD leaders about science and technology investments that will provide warfighters the greatest return on investment.
They spoke yesterday at the National Defense Industrial Association’s virtual Pacific Operational Science and Technology Conference.
Paul Lopata, principal director for quantum science, said the DOD has been doing quantum science research for the last 20 or 30 years.
Although quantum science is often thought of as a distant future capability, it is actually having an impact on DOD operations today in four areas, he said.
The first and probably most important, he said, are atomic clocks. The department has historically used high-performance timekeeping for such things as position, navigation and timing, and GPS.
The enemy is aware of the advantage GPS gives to the department so they have developed techniques like spoofing and jamming to disrupt the DOD’s time synchronization and the ability to incorporate signals from sensors. Spoofing and jamming also disrupts the department’s ability to encrypt communications, Lopata said.
To respond to that threat, the department is developing higher performance atomic clocks, he said.
The second category, he said, is made up of quantum sensors of different types, used for gyros, accelerometers, magnetometers and gravitational sensors, all of which are used for position, navigation and timing. Research is being done to improve quantum sensors as well.
Quantum computing is the third category, Lopata said. That’s a future development that will enable computers to attain extraordinarily high performance.
The fourth category uses quantum science for communications networks, he said. That capability will also mature further down the road.
Although quantum science for computing and networks is not yet fully developed, a lot of good basic research is being done in those categories to ensure that those capabilities will eventually yield results.