Strategic Atomic Navigation Devices and Systems (SANDS)

The SANDS program is investing in Quantum Timing and Sensing components that can improve the DoD’s Position, Navigation and Timing (PNT) warfighting capability.  In the area of timing, the need and requirements for improved timing performance and resiliency in contested environments is increasingly demanding as the AF requires additional communications bandwidth and evolves to distributed, coordinated electronic warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), and kinetic operations across distributed platforms and networks.

As a starting point, the SANDS program is investing in advanced technology, through the design and development of a space-qualified Atomic Frequency Standard system for satellites that require a high degree of synchronization (e.g., GPS). In the area of Quantum Sensing, sensors are ubiquitous in the AF mission. Examples include radar antennas, gyroscopes, accelerometers, imagers, rangefinders, air speed indicators, compasses, gravimeters, etc.

Many of these sensors can be improved by leveraging quantum methods. Specifically, quantum mechanics has been identified to make near term improvements in measurements of: gravity, inertial forces (rotation, acceleration), electric and magnetic fields. Quantum sensors have the advantage of low drift and eliminate precision moving mechanical parts that drive the cost, size, weight, and power (CSWaP) of current sensors.