China Claims Major Radar Breakthrough Makes F-35 & F-22 Obsolete

Arms races are built on two basic concepts. Countries strive to have more men and weapons than their opponents, or they hope to have  weapons that are so sophisticated that their enemies can’t compete. The battleship was a prime example of this second type of weapon, at least until they were decimated by light aircraft in WWII. Could stealth aircraft be the next weapon to become obsolete?

The problem with battleships is easy to understand. They were great for fighting on the open seas, as their armor could withstand direct hits from the sides. But their decks were vulnerable to an attack from above. Airplanes were hard to hit and lethal to the large ships.

Stealth aircraft rely on that stealth. If they can be seen, their greatest tactical advantage is lost. And the Chinese have been working hard to develop a system capable of spotting America’s most elusive planes.

A new paper talks about how this will happen. “Quantum physics says that if you create a pair of entangled photons by splitting the original photon with a crystal, a change to one entangled photon will immediately affect its twin, regardless of the distance between them,” the paper reads. “A quantum radar, generating a large number of entangled photon pairs and shooting one twin into the air, would be capable of receiving critical information about a target, including its shape, location, speed, temperature and even the chemical composition of its paint, from returning photons.”

The quantum radar is being developed by China.

“If such a radar existed, it would be able to detect and track stealth aircraft with impunity, but it is unclear if China truly mastered such technology,” Dave Majumdar of National Interest writes.  “The Chinese defense industry has claimed a breakthrough in mastering quantum radar technology, but Western defense industry officials said that such a system is not likely to exist outside a laboratory. Even then, the quantum radars would be difficult to build and test reliably even in a lab environment. Indeed, it is likely that networked low-frequency radars—which can also detect and track fighter-sized stealth aircraft—are more likely to be a more pragmatic development.”

China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC) is one of the industry leaders. They claim to have tested quantum radar out to 60 miles.  That distance may seem minimal, considering the speed of these aircraft, but it is a first step.

And this is what the government in China will allow to be published. That poses two other possibilities. The claim may be bogus, or the distance aircraft are observable may be much greater than 60 miles.

“The figure in declassified documents is usually a tuned-down version of the real [performance],” a Chinese military researcher noted in an interview with the South China Morning Post.

The news that China wants radar to defeat our stealth capabilities is hardly earth shattering. If the end product is successful, though, it makes the U.S. fleet look much more obsolete.