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Quantum Slated to Better Maneuver Missiles

Pasqal, MBDA technology aims to help missiles reduce fuel use and avoid radar detection

John Potter

November 1, 2023

2 Min Read
Engineers work on missiles in a lab in blue light
MBDA missiles could have optimized flight paths thanks to quantum computing. MBDA

Defense and quantum firms have unveiled next-generation quantum missile tech as part of the Complex Weapons Innovation and Technology Partnership (CW ITP).

A CW ITP meeting in Edinburgh, Scotland, last week shone a spotlight on disruptor concepts like the Quantum Optimization Path Planning Algorithm (QOPPA). Developed by missile manufacturer MBDA and quantum computing firm Pasqal, QOPPA aims to revolutionize missile route planning by reducing fuel usage and dodging radar detection.

“We are looking to gain maturity to optimize the future deployment of quantum computing and anticipate the future framework expansion to other use cases,” an MBDA official explained.

Pascal officials confirmed that after successful feasibility tests earlier this year, hardware experimentation is planned for the next two years. They also revealed that the role of quantum computing in powering missile swarms for saturation attacks is under consideration. However, they cautioned that integrating quantum computers into missiles or aircraft is still a distant goal due to size, weight and power limitations.

Pasqal has yet to miniaturize quantum computing technology, so the company is focusing on increasing the number of qubits to gain a quantum advantage.

“The size of the Pasqal [quantum] computer is quite big and increasing qubits and miniaturizing the computer is a huge engineering problem. The most important thing is to raise the number of qubits to provide a quantum advantage and then think about how to miniaturize that. Our priority is to achieve a certain number of qubits,” said an MBDA official.

Related:D-Wave, Davidson Technologies Unveil Defense Initiatives

Until onboard quantum computing becomes viable, data link connectivity might allow missiles to network with distant quantum computers.

The convergence of quantum computing and defense technology signals a significant leap in military capabilities. While full integration of quantum technology may be years away, its influence is already reshaping strategic calculations in the defense sector.

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