Historically, the military sector has served as a testbed for various emerging technologies. Fledgling technology breakthroughs have been fostered through government agency frameworks and funding, before going on to transform the world as we know it. A prime example is the internet itself – the earliest iteration of which was a communication experiment sending a message from a single computer to another by the US government’s Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) in 1969.
It is no surprise, then, that the global defence industry is exploring the potential effects of quantum technologies. In March 2022, Nato’s Cyber Security Centre – responsible for protecting Nato’s communication networks – successfully tested secure communication flows in a post-quantum scenario using a virtual private network provided by UK deep-tech start-up Post-Quantum.
The collaboration between Nato and Post-Quantum demonstrates a trend for collaborative development between quantum technology companies and military end-users. Despite research being conducted by various military organisations, and their historical leadership in the field of emerging technology, the Nato/Post-Quantum collaboration also demonstrates how the majority of current research and development (R&D) in quantum warfare technology is largely expected to come from private sector organisations, according to GlobalData thematic research.
Quantum R&D investment by leading tech companies including IBM and Microsoft has increased in recent years compared with government defence budgets, making major developments more likely to come from the civil field.