Since the development of modern camouflage during World War I, the military forces of the major powers have been in a continuous arms race between more advanced sensors and more effective stealth technologies.
Using composite materials, novel geometries that limit microwave reflections and special paints that absorb radar, modern aircraft have been able to reduce their radar profiles to those of a small bird. But now with a quantum radar it will be harder to go unnoticed.
The Department of National Defense of Canada is developing a new quantum radar system. The project, led by Jonathan Baugh at the Institute of Quantum Computing (IQC) of the University of Waterloo, it uses the phenomenon of quantum entanglement to eliminate background noise.
Conventional radar suffers from a universal problem of all radio and detection communications, which is signal to noise ratio. That is, if you mix too much random noise with the signal you are trying to detect, it does not matter how much the signal intensity increases because the noise level is also increased.
Quantum radar, however, solves this by using something called quantum illumination to filter out noise by making the outgoing photons that make up the radar signal identifiable. It does so through the principle of quantum entanglement. This is when two photons are generated or made to interact in such a way that their properties are related to each other. When this happens, if you can determine the position, momentum, rotation or polarization of a photon, you can determine the complementary position, momentum, rotation or polarization of your partner.
The result is that, by firing a photon out of the radar plate and retaining its torque, it is possible to filter the missing photons from the return beam. This eliminates background noise and electronic blocking and the radar image becomes clear enough to detect even the most advanced stealth ship.
The 54 radar stations of the North Alert System (NWS), based in the Arctic and operated by the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) are reaching the end of their life cycle and may need to be replaced already in 2025