The US Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) has awarded IonQ a $13.4 million contract to deliver quantum computing solutions.

Under the contract, the company will provide its trapped ion quantum computer for hardware research to create quantum algorithms and applications for the AFRL.

Work will take place at the IonQ facility in College Park, Maryland, and is expected to be completed by 2025.

“Trapped ion systems and their performance demonstrated by high algorithmic qubits have some very unique properties making them one of the leading technologies in the development of quantum computing and networking capabilities,” AFRL Information Deputy Director Michael Hayduk said.

“This contract solidifies AFRL’s long-term strategic focus in quantum information science.”

The agreement is an IonQ milestone, as it “represents a significant public-private partnership to invest in quantum computing,” according to the company.

IonQ said that its quantum computing solutions have the potential to assist the US Air Force in protecting both public and private infrastructures in the country.

“The partnership will accelerate critical quantum science and technology projects, benefiting the Air Force as we seek to maintain our competitive advantage and advance our national security interests.”

Quantum Cybersecurity in the US

The contract supports the Quantum Cybersecurity Preparedness Act introduced by the US House of Representatives in 2021.

The act was passed to invest in solutions to protect against quantum-powered attacks and develop “quantum computing strength on the domestic front.”

In 2022, US President Joe Biden announced directives to support quantum information technologies.

Following the announcement, the US National Security Administration released quantum cybersecurity readiness guidelines to defend against adversaries evolving quantum systems.

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“Quantum computing is the key that we believe will unlock unforeseen efficiencies and strength in the development and deployment of US defense technologies,” IonQ CEO Peter Chapman explained.

“This area of research holds incredibly exciting promise, and we’re proud to be among the first to partner with the AFRL to further American leadership in this important space.”