First Quantum Aircraft Navigation Test Celebrated in the UK

Infleqtion, a quantum technology specialist, has successfully completed test flights showcasing two cutting-edge quantum technologies designed to protect aircraft from GPS jamming. With £8m of funding from the UK government, the company has developed advanced quantum-based navigation systems that are impervious to jamming and spoofing attempts from hostile actors. These tests form part of a larger project funded by UK Research and Innovation, aimed at creating quantum sensors to address the nation’s heavy reliance on global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) like GPS for accurate and reliable location, navigation, and timing (PNT) data. While GPS jamming is currently rare and does not directly affect flight paths, the development of quantum-based PNT systems could provide a highly accurate and resilient solution in the future. Timothy Ballance, the UK president of Infleqtion, emphasized the importance of reducing reliance on vulnerable satellite navigation systems and hailed the recent trials as a significant step forward in quantum PNT technology. The tested technology will form part of the Quantum Inertial Navigation System (Q-INS), which has the potential to revolutionize PNT by offering greater accuracy and resilience beyond traditional GPS. UK science minister Andrew Griffith, who participated in the final test flight, highlighted the critical role of accurate and secure navigation systems in various sectors and expressed optimism about the potential resilience offered by quantum technology. The UK government’s funding initiatives, including the National Quantum Strategy and National Quantum Technologies Programme, aim to solidify the country’s position as a leading quantum-enabled economy. Henry White, sensing technology lead at BAE Systems, lauded the trials as a significant step towards the development of quantum technology, which could provide a substantial military advantage. The precise and reliable location and timing data provided by quantum-based navigation systems could contribute to the design and capabilities of next-generation combat air systems. Collaboration between industry experts and wider industry stakeholders in the early stages of technology development ensures the seamless integration of quantum technology in military applications.

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