Quantum Safe Communication for Military Drones

The quantum safe communications tunnel with rotating symmetric keys was demonstrated for mock C4ISR missions By Mike Ball / 27 Jul 2022
Blue Bear drone swarm

Blue Bear Systems Research, along with quantum encryption technology developer Arqit Quantum, have successfully demonstrated a quantum safe communication channel for secure data transmissions. The solution is based around Arqit’s QuantumCloud technology and hosted on Blue Bear’s Smart Connect device, an “inter-swarm” autonomy brain that tasks multiple uncrewed systems to deliver collaborative multi-domain missions.

This is the first time C4ISR quantum safe communications with rotating symmetric keys has been enabled using a lightweight software protocol for small drones.

Blue Bear simulated and flew mock ISR (Information Surveillance and Reconnaissance) missions using their ATAK-hosted Centurion mission system for C2 (Command and Control) of a drone using full symmetric encryption of task and target data secured by Arqit’s symmetric key agreement platform. During the mission, image data of potential targets was encrypted and relayed securely using Arqit’s quantum safe communications tunnel. Additionally, through active authorisation of endpoints and frequent rotation of symmetric keys, the attack surface area was limited and perfect secrecy of the data was achieved.

The combined quantum safe communication solution is scalable and can be applied to any data transmission path between operators, mission systems and crewed/uncrewed vehicles. The solution can be used on any open or closed network in C2 of air, land or sea-borne systems and is agnostic of the communication bearers (e.g. point-to-point datalinks, mesh datalinks, 5G, SATCOM, fibre and optical links).

David Williams, Arqit’s Founder, Chairman and CEO, said: “We are pleased to prove that Arqit is the solution of choice for future proofed protection of highly dynamic assets like swarming drones. The versatility of Arqit’s symmetric key agreement software agent means it can instantly layer into any part of the battlespace network stack with full compatibility and interoperability with existing network infrastructure, protocols and quantum safe encryption algorithms. The promise of Multi Domain Integration can only be met with stronger, simpler encryption.”

Dr Yoge Patel, Blue Bear CEO, commented: “Integrating Arqit’s technology onto our Smart Connect avionics gives our customers an operational advantage in multi-domain operations and beyond. With authentication on a continuous basis, even if an asset becomes compromised it can be deactivated in real time. This has not been seen before. Our demonstration with Arqit represents a milestone development in the security of crewed and uncrewed applications.”

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Posted by Mike Ball Mike Ball is our resident technical editor here at Unmanned Systems Technology. Combining his passion for teaching, advanced engineering and all things unmanned, Mike keeps a watchful eye over everything related to the unmanned technical sector. With over 10 years’ experience in the unmanned field and a degree in engineering, Mike’s been heading up our technical team here for the last 8 years. Connect & Contact