China Achieves Major Breakthrough In Radar Technology


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Nov 1, 2016
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China Shows Off First Quantum Radar Prototype
Aerospace Daily & Defense Report
Steve Trimble
Nov 05, 2018

ZHUHAI, China—A potentially breakthrough quantum radar prototype is making a debut appearance at the Zhuhai Airshow.

In displaying the unique device, China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC) is offering a tantalizing glimpse of one of its most ambitious technologies.

In theory, integrating the principle of quantum entanglement in a radar system can vastly improve performance, making the sensor significantly less vulnerable to radio frequency jamming and more adept at detecting targets.

Underscoring the sensitive nature of the technology, CETC limited a press conference at the Zhuhai Airshow on Nov. 5 to Chinese journalists. An American journalist for Aerospace DAILY was mistakenly allowed to be seated, but then ordered to leave before the event began.

CETC’s 14th Research Institute has not been quiet about its achievements in the quantum radar field, however.

Starting in 2015, the institute’s researchers achieved a “detection breakthrough” of 100 km (60 mi.) with a prototype quantum radar on China’s Northwestern Plateau, according to materials distributed before the press conference began.

In more recent tests, the institute adapted the system to work in daylight and performed detection tests against slow-moving targets on the sea, CETC’s marketing documents state.

A quantum radar “is expected to solve the traditional bottleneck [of] detection of low observable target detection, survival under electronic warfare conditions, platform load limitations, etc.,” according to the CETC brochure.

The principle of quantum radar is well understood. The device creates a stream of entangled photons, which is then split into two streams. One of them is converted into a microwave frequency that is transmitted and reflected like a traditional radar. The other stream of photons remains in that state as an “idler beam.”

As microwave energy from the first stream returns to the radar’s receiver, the energy particles are compared with the entangled photons in the idler beam to filter out unrelated signals, or radio frequency noise.

Such an approach could render radio frequency jamming systems useless. It also sharpens the radar’s sensitivity to low-observable objects that are designed to be difficult to detect against background clutter.

Although highlighting the 14th Research Institute’s rapid progress, CETC stops short of suggesting its quantum radar prototype has progressed beyond the laboratory.

The tests so far have “laid an important theoretical and experimental basis for further research,” the CETC said.

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