Connects decision-makers and solutions creators to what's next in quantum computing

Quantum computing revolution called a ‘tank versus cavalry, machine guns versus humans’ moment

Berenice Baker, Editor, Enter Quantum

July 19, 2023

2 Min Read
Two F-35B aircraft in flight
James Heappey has called for military aircraft to be quanum-ready. SAC Tim Laurence, UK MOD Crown copyright 2019

Fighter jets being sold today will be in service for decades and risk obsolescence if they are not ready to incorporate quantum computing, a U.K. defense minister has said.

Speaking at the Global Air and Space Chiefs’ Conference, part of the Royal International Air Tattoo air show, James Heappey acknowledged that military applications for quantum computers are still in the early stages of development.

However, he said of the current generation of aircraft being sold: “None of them have quantum computing in yet. All of them will be in service when quantum computing arrives.”

Heappey said that the ability to crunch data is holding back the ability to understand where a target is in the noise of the battlespace and decision-making often still comes down to human judgment.

He added that quantum computing will profoundly change warfare, saying that when they are in use, “then the vastness of the noise of the ocean, or the vastness of the business of the skies or the vastness of everything that’s happening with a human population on land can be understood and crunched by computers that are working at a speed that we can’t imagine.”

Heappey said quantum computing will significantly change what armed forces can do, so military hardware should be ready to use the technology when it becomes available. He described the advent of quantum as a “tank versus cavalry, machine guns versus humans moment.”

Related:Air Cargo Optimization Aided by Quantum

Heappey did not address the risk of quantum computing attacks on encrypted military data, or the opportunities presented by quantum encryption, communication and navigation. However, he raised eyebrows when he suggested quantum computers could be installed on aircraft.

“We have to be able to buy aircraft, design aircraft where the moment that those computers are good to go, you can rip out whatever is there and chuck in the quantum computer,” he said.

About the Author(s)

Berenice Baker

Editor, Enter Quantum

Berenice is the editor of Enter Quantum, the companion website and exclusive content outlet for The Quantum Computing Summit. Enter Quantum informs quantum computing decision-makers and solutions creators with timely information, business applications and best practice to enable them to adopt the most effective quantum computing solution for their businesses. Berenice has a background in IT and 16 years’ experience as a technology journalist.

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