(ForeignAffairs) A revolution in military affairs—the emergence of technologies so disruptive that they overtake existing military concepts and capabilities and necessitate a rethinking of how, with what, and by whom war is waged–is unfolding today. Artificial intelligence, autonomous systems, ubiquitous sensors, advanced manufacturing, and quantum science will transform warfare.
Quantum sensors will likely be the first usable application of quantum science. once quantum sensors are fielded, there will be nowhere to hide. Quantum sensors—which use the bizarre properties of subatomic particles, such as their ability to be in two different places at once—will eventually be able detect disruptions in the environment, such as the displacement of air around aircraft or water around submarines.
The same quantum science that will improve military sensors will transform communications and computing. Quantum computing will make possible encryption methods that could be unbreakable, as well as give militaries the power to process volumes of data and solve classes of problems that exceed the capacity of classical computers.
NOTE: This is an extensive, lengthy and frightening article about the future of warfare. Especially important are the sections that call for the US military to think differently, and for U.S. defense planners to adopt more realistic assumptions. They should assume that U.S. forces will fight in highly contested environments against technologically advanced opponents, that they will be unlikely to avoid detection in any domain, and that they will lose large numbers of military systems in combat. Washington must also banish the idea that the goal of military modernization is simply to replace the military platforms it has relied on for decades, such as fighter jets and aircraft carriers, with better versions of the same things. It must focus instead on how to buy systems that can be combined into networks or kill chains to achieve particular military outcomes, such as air superiority or control of the seas.