- British Minister of State for the Armed Forces James Heappey said aircraft designers must be prepared for quantum computing to become practical.
- Innovation is happening at an accelerating pace, the minister told the group.
- Heappey gave the keynote speech at the Global Air Chiefs Conference.
In his keynote speech at the Global Air Chiefs Conference in London, James Heappey, British Minister of State for the Armed Forces, stressed the need for Western nations to design next-generation aircraft with the capability of incorporating quantum computing once it becomes practical. In fact, as reported in Breaking Defense.
While acknowledging that the military applications of quantum computing are still in their theoretical stages, Heappey urged countries to plan for their incorporation into future aircraft designs.
Heappey told the audience, “Everything is going to be operational when quantum computing comes so we need to be able to buy airplanes, design planes, where when the computer is ready to go, you can just rip whatever’s in there and throw it away. on a quantum computer because I think it’s a ‘tank versus cavalry,’ ‘machine gun versus man’ moment.” He highlighted the potential of quantum computing to unlock the full potential of AI automation, calling the “arrival of the quantum” a “huge threshold”.
Quantum computing has significant implications for national security applications, including rapidly decrypting traditional encryption and developing ultra-precise sensors and navigation systems. While the technology has been explored by the US government and others for years, its practical application and readiness remains uncertain, according to Breaking Defense.
Heappey emphasized that quantum computing will fundamentally change warfare, enabling armed forces to process vast amounts of data and navigate the complexities of battlespace in ways currently limited by human judgment.
He said, “Quantum computing will work at speeds we cannot imagine. It will greatly change what our armed forces can do, and we must be ready to use our machines when that time comes.”
Quantum sensing also offers a range of new capabilities for military aircraft, including interference-resistant satellite-free navigation.
The minister stressed the need for speed in integrating quantum capabilities, highlighting the importance of collaborative relationships between the military, industry and the scientific community. Heappey states that the successful deployment of quantum technologies will require “entirely new relationships” between these stakeholders.
As the development of quantum computing progresses, Heappey’s call to design aircraft with future quantum integration highlights the imperative for nations to anticipate and adapt to new technologies. By planning for the arrival of quantum computing, Western nations aim to ensure their armed forces can make effective use of this transformative technology, enabling them to maintain a competitive advantage in future conflicts.
Fiery Innovation Cycle
Heappey told the group that innovation shapes the battlefield in near real time. This will have a dramatic effect on how designers build and modify systems.
“In the past, you could go to the pavilion at the Farnborough Air Show or Fairford and you could be shown an airplane, and you could have faith that in the life of that airplane, it would start ahead of its time,” he said. “And in the middle third of his service, that will be the time. And in the back third of its service, it’s still going to be competitive with most of the other air forces and all is well. But the pace of innovation now is such that within the first third of the services of most of the platforms that we will acquire, the technology will pass them by.
Keeping an eye on the enemy and forging good relations with industry are two ways military planners can keep pace with these changes, Heappey added.
“So I think we should force ourselves to get into this place where we are picking up intelligence on what our adversaries are doing,” Heappey said. “And within the industry, we have to talk to the industry about how they’re going to innovate with that intelligence and science. And then we have to apply military ingenuity to how we intend to use those systems and that spiral of military intelligence, science, innovation, and cunning. I really think that’s the winning edge of future battles.