A Chinese firm has claimed to successfully developed a quantum radar which could detect stealth fighter jets from great distances.
The mobile quantum radar is able to spot and track targets more than 100 kilometres (62 miles) away in the daylight and over the sea, according to Chinese media.
The cutting-edge equipment is expected to be a powerful weapon against U.S. stealth warplanes, such as the F-22 Raptor and the F-35 Lightning.
Stealth craft are equipped with systems to ‘jam’ detectors with artificial noise, in addition to using special paint and designs to thwart detection by radio waves.
A quantum radar can spot objects that are invisible to traditional radio wave-based systems by a principle called quantum entanglement, in which two photons form a connected pair even over great distances.
The system would send out one of the photons, while the other in the pair would stay behind.
According to the researchers, it could vastly improve the accuracy in environments with a lot of background noise.
China’s quantum radar is based on the single-photon detecting technology and is developed by the 14th Research Institute of China Electronics Technology Group Corporation based in Nanjing.
A prototype was built in 2016 and researchers have been running experiments with it in the past two years.
According to China’s Science and Technology Daily, the research team recently completed a long-range experiment with the radar prototype on a plateau in north-west China, marking a major breakthrough of the project.
The radar is undergoing further tests and will have better anti-stealth features in the future, Sun Jun, a senior engineer at the research institute, told China Daily.
Sun said in the interview that the quantum radar was highly reliable, accurate and viable in ‘sophisticated electromagnetic environments’. It can also be mounted onto different kinds of carriers, according to Sun.
Some experts have in the past cast doubt on China’s quantum radar project.
Commenting on the subject to South China Morning Post, Chinese physicist Ma Xiaosong voiced skepticism over the claim that the quantum radar would be able to detect stealth planes as far as 100 kilometers away.
The physicist also questioned whether the quantum radar would function in non-laboratory, real-life environments.
Just in April, Canada announced it would develop a quantum radar system. The project is funded by Canada’s Department of National Defence and is expected to cost $2.7 million (£2.1 million).