Defence research saves lives

DRDC Valcartier Research Centre
DRDC Valcartier Research Centre (Photo: DND)

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By Édouard Dufour – Adsum

Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) has a clear mandate to provide Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members with a critical technological advantage when faced with danger.

Although most of their work is done confidentially, the 1400 DRDC employees at the research centre adjacent to CFB Valcartier are pushing the boundaries of science every day to save lives.

“Our goal is to act as advisor to the Department of National Defence. We create a pool of technological knowledge that helps the CAF,” says Bruno Gilbert, director of the Valcartier Research Centre.

Whether testing new models of vehicles, aircraft, firearms, or ballistic plates, DRDC uses a myriad of scientific experts, engineers, and technologists to meet its research objectives. The DRDC team uses some 20 military advisers to keep up with military needs. These are “liaison officers with extensive experience in the field,” says Gilbert.

The Director adds that DRDC‘s mission is to identify technological challenges that the CAF will have to respond to, “before they show up.” As an example, he cites the major research efforts made in 1990 to increase the resistance of military vehicles to improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

A few years later, this research saved lives in Afghanistan. DRDC developed numerous weapon configurations and protective elements for Canada’s armoured vehicles for this difficult deployment. “Our people are very proud and motivated to support CAF members in their mission,” Gilbert says.

DRDC collaborates with the international elite in the field of new technology, including Canada’s NATO allies. One of the highlights of such collaboration is a space exploration rocket developed in the 1980s. A model of this rocket still sits in front of the DRDC facilities in Valcartier.

DRDC is proud of its past, but it looks to the future. Among the centre’s particular areas of interest are the development of technology to reduce the ecological footprint of training in firing ranges. Others include the development of high-power lasers, hyper velocity technology, and artificial intelligence, as well as the detection and pursuit of drones.

“We have to be constantly in the vanguard and concentrate our efforts where we can make a difference!” concludes Mr. Gilbert with enthusiasm.

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