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Key sectors

Applied technologies

Cutting-edge research facilities = ingenious ideas

Defence Research and Development Canada – Valcartier
(DRDC Valcartier)
Science in support of
national defence

Innovation and impact: these twin imperatives guide the efforts of Defence Research and Development Canada-Valcartier (DRDC-Valcartier), according to director general Guy Vézina.

  • Year created: 1945
  • Employees: 400, including 20 military personnel
  • Researchers: 275 scientists and technologists
  • Annual budget: CA$70 million

Transferable technologies
  • optronic systems
  • information systems
  • combat systems

Research areas
  • Force protection and weapons systems
  • C4ISR (command, control, computers, communications, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance)

“In partnership with universities, research labs and industrial stakeholders, we undertake a broad range of R&D; activities, from basic research to operating system implementation. But most of our work focuses on applied research. Our innovation efforts are geared toward making a positive impact on the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces and, whenever possible, on all security stakeholders.”

Backed by a team of 400 experts, including more than 275 physicists, chemists, biologists, physiologists, psychologists, engineers, technologists and computer scientists, DRDC-Valcartier (located near the Valcartier Canadian Forces base) is involved in a number of defence and security-related activities. In addition to the Canadian Forces, police and emergency preparedness stakeholders—as well as the entire Quebec City region—have reaped the benefits of the technological advances developed on site. One of the most striking examples of DRDC-Valcartier’s innovations dates back to the 1970s, when a team led by researcher Jacques Beaulieu developed the first carbon dioxide laser (known as the transversely excited atmospheric pressure or TEA CO2 laser), which was marketed by Gentec and laid the foundations for Quebec City’s optics/photonics sector.

DRDC-Valcartier’s areas of expertise include information, surveillance, protection and weapons systems. “Our expertise in ground and air platform protection as well as in personnel protection has been in high demand over the past few years,” says Mr. Vézina.

“We meet intelligence, planning and conduct-of-operations needs at the strategic, operating and tactical levels in the areas of command, control, computers, communication, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (C4ISR),” notes Mr. Vézina. “Our surveillance efforts are focused on the visible and infrared spectrum as well as on innovations in the hyperspectral field. We also cover land, airport and space surveillance.”

Reducing heat with thermal shields

In 2008, Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan began using a thermal shield developed by RDDC-Valcartier. “In response to an urgent need, we designed and manufactured a thermal shield for the Afghanistan mission in association with Granby-based Stedfast Inc., which specializes in multi-layered fabrics. Used on military vehicles, the thermal shield serves a protective function and reduces interior temperatures by nearly 25 degrees Celsius,” says Mr. Vézina.

A partnership approach

DRDC-Valcartier works alongside universities, research facilities and industrial stakeholders. Nearly 50% of its R&D; program is carried out in partnership with businesses, laboratories and post-secondary institutions in Quebec and across Canada.

By teaming up with DRDC-Valcartier, many companies have participated in international research projects involving NATO member countries and other Canadian allies such as Australia and New Zealand. These projects are exclusively aimed at enhancing national security and defence. “Companies that work with us have an opportunity to expand their international horizons,” notes Mr. Vézina.

Close ties with industry pay big dividends. While DRDC-Valcartier’s research activities are primarily geared toward prototype development, its commercial partners are responsible for marketing the various technologies and systems designed on site.

State-of-the-art facilities

DRDC-Valcartier also boasts state-of-the-art facilities. “Our equipment is often the only one of its kind in Canada and enables us to carry out world-class research,” says Mr. Vézina.

Examples of related projects include an aeroballistic range, a hypervelocity impact study lab, trisonic and open-circuit wind tunnels, an advanced platform integration lab, a vehicle and personnel protection lab, a mobile hyperspectral measurement lab, a microsystem lab, a femtosecond lab, an energy materials lab, a mobile command and control lab and a virtual immersion lab. “Projectiles in the hypervelocity lab can reach seven times the speed of sound, enabling us to test the effectiveness of vehicle armour against future threats.”

DRDC-Valcartier’s one-of-a-kind virtual immersion lab allows researchers to explore the convergence of virtual and real-world environments and to develop new approaches to training, complex system engineering and intelligence capabilities for situational awareness in operating theatres.

Lisa-Marie Noël

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