DSTL - The Science Inside

Yokel

LE
DSTL - The Science Inside

Dstl’s world-class people are a proven Defence asset we can be all be proud of, whether it be acting as a trusted partner to demystify and harness the application of science and technology (S&T), offering credible, impartial, evidence-driven advice and solutions to the armed forces, police and security colleagues, or helping to create clear military and security advantage.

The past 12 months have again been challenging for the UK as we navigate our way out of the coronavirus pandemic and the threats from state and non-state adversaries continue to evolve at a frenetic pace. Despite these challenges, Dstl is playing its part in helping the UK and its allies stay ahead of those who wish us harm and threaten our way of life.

We are giving greater emphasis to research into artificial intelligence, autonomy, cyber, novel weapons and space in support of the ambitions outlined by the Prime Minister in the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy and the MOD’s Chief Scientific Adviser’s 5 capability challenges.

We are also casting our net further to find, nurture and fund generation after next technologies that have the potential to give the UK the edge, boosted by an additional £1 billion on Defence S&T research.

But we are also maintaining our hard-earned expertise across 22 S&T capability areas delivering 4 main outputs:

  • Research: original research and concepts, creating new capabilities for Defence and Security
  • Requirements and Evaluation: S&T support to assess, evaluate and deliver current, next and generation after next capabilities
  • Specialist Advice and Services: knowledge and facilities at readiness to meet priority needs
  • Operational Support: rapid and deployed S&T to meet the urgency of operations
We’re growing our supply base from industry and academia so that we benefit from the very best innovation that takes place outside of Government, while supporting levelling-up across the UK.

And our international partnerships with allies are becoming stronger as we look to secure our science superpower status.

In this, our 20th anniversary year, I’m delighted to share with you this inspiring glimpse at a small selection of the fascinating science and technology projects we are delivering at Dstl.


Integrating human-machine teams in the Intelligent Ship
Exploring the depths of uncrewed underwater vehicles
Radiography support to Carrier Strike Group’s 2021 deployment
Pioneering WiFi under the waves
Safer future for mine disposal
Guiding future Air Mobility operations
Delivering Future Combat Air Systems (FCAS)
Countering Uncrewed Air Systems (UAS)
Supporting operations against Daesh
Enabling Information Advantage for UK helicopters
Delivering next generation Air Platform Protection (APP)
Targeting the future
New territory for wheeled demonstrator
Countering IEDs
UGVs breaking new ground
New technologies span natural boundaries
Diversity on the virtual battlefield
Largest military drone swarm
Spear delivers precision effects
Co-operative Strike Weapons
UK hosts international military urban experiment
C2 demonstrator trialled on NATO deployment
Satellite imagery analysis boosted by automated object detection
£72.5m for novel weapons
New techniques boost data exploitation
High speed weapons concepts take shape
Future weapons commonality
Keeping the UK safe with National Cyber Force
Resilient future for data centric security
Operational support on defence from cyber-attack
Avionics Research Test Bed supports Typhoon evolution
Concepts for generation-after-next electromagnetic activities capability
Informing the Army’s electromagnetic future
Dstl science supporting UK Space Command
Fast track global space innovation
Advancing space weather predictions
Hermes controls first satellite
Titania satellite demonstrator targets 2023 launch
Border Force
Enhanced directional microphone
Targeting malicious and illegal drones
Developing less-lethal weapons
New concepts for tackling knife crime
Royal opening for Energetics Analysis Centre
Reducing danger with telexistence
Blood drop evaluation
Looking through snowstorms
Sustaining equipment
Underground sensing
Seeing the future in Virtual Reality
Supporting future MOD chemical detection capability development
Radar windfarm mitigation
Supporting the national coronavirus response
Ploughshare’s innovation ambition
Dstl research behind trial to predict sepsis
 
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jrwlynch

LE
Book Reviewer
Bloody awful whenever I needed specialist advice. Masters in hiding behind security clearances and talking about their pensions from about the age of 30.

What's glumly interesting, is how over the last decade they've gone from "the core science and engineering expertise for Defence", to "buying in science and engineering for Defence and checking it's good", to "buying science and engineering for Defence, and subcontracting the quality control"...

Not that I'm complaining, now being on the right side of the equation as far as interesting and well-paid work is concerned, but there are some areas where Dstl simply doesn't have capability any more...
 
What's glumly interesting, is how over the last decade they've gone from "the core science and engineering expertise for Defence", to "buying in science and engineering for Defence and checking it's good", to "buying science and engineering for Defence, and subcontracting the quality control"...

Not that I'm complaining, now being on the right side of the equation as far as interesting and well-paid work is concerned, but there are some areas where Dstl simply doesn't have capability any more...
In truth, the capability was lost when QinetiQ was floated off.
 
In truth, the capability was lost when QinetiQ was floated off.
Agree. The chap I worked for (I was an outside contractor) was brilliant - really. He had a photographic memory and was too clever for his own good, so clever that at Uni he'd just coasted and did enough to pass everything. This came back to bite him in the arrse later on, since, because he'd only got a 3rd, he was being held back in the pay and promotion stakes. He wasn't invited to go with 'the rest' to QinetiQ.
 

MrBane

LE
Moderator
Kit Reviewer
Reviews Editor
I like the idea of 'novel weapons' being things like exploding cream pies, overnight stays in Slough and loaning the enemy @Ravers Aga so they starve to death.
 

Yokel

LE
Wow - that's an impressive resume.




Must be getting sold off soon.

FFS - I thought that Chris Grayling had been stopped from being a Minister?

What's glumly interesting, is how over the last decade they've gone from "the core science and engineering expertise for Defence", to "buying in science and engineering for Defence and checking it's good", to "buying science and engineering for Defence, and subcontracting the quality control"...

Not that I'm complaining, now being on the right side of the equation as far as interesting and well-paid work is concerned, but there are some areas where Dstl simply doesn't have capability any more...

Why have capabilities been watered down or allowed to wither on the vine at a time of increased international instability and technological change? The tendency to sell or scrap anything not nailed down?

As was warned of at the time.

Can you remember what year DERA was split up? I seem to recall it was at the same time as the 'end of history' idea influencing politicians.
 
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Why have capabilities been watered down or allowed to wither on the vine at a time of increased international instability and technological change? The tendency to sell or scrap anything not nailed down?
Because Dstl was intended to look after a mix of a few very specific technologies and to oversee research funding in a wider range of areas. The stuff where they were doing the actual research (eg CBRN) allowed them to retain a critical mass of people. Other areas where they were essentially commissioning others to conduct research - not so much. So you end up with a bunch of people retiring and their knowledge going with them.

Probably also fair to say that they also tried to do too much (ie had a lot of people staying on with CS) across the board, which diluted specific expertise.

DERA ended in 2000/2001 IIRC.
 

Yokel

LE
I think that the idea was that Qinetiq (who thought up that name?) was going to do the less sensitive work that could be commercialised, and DSTL would do the core defence and Government work. I wonder why nobody considered commercialising parts of DERA - by which I mean marketing activities and capabilities?
 

Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
I think that the idea was that Qinetiq (who thought up that name?) was going to do the less sensitive work that could be commercialised, and DSTL would do the core defence and Government work. I wonder why nobody considered commercialising parts of DERA - by which I mean marketing activities and capabilities?
Energy, innit.
 
I think that the idea was that Qinetiq (who thought up that name?) was going to do the less sensitive work that could be commercialised, and DSTL would do the core defence and Government work. I wonder why nobody considered commercialising parts of DERA - by which I mean marketing activities and capabilities?
Nope.

The only bits Dstl were going to do were the really sensitive stuff where certain countries we work closely with would stop working so closely with us if the work was outside government. Plus some of the operational analysis stuff that supports balance of investment work.

From memory DERA did have marketing people, they just weren't very good at it. There's a reason they were pronounced "Dearer"........It wouldn't surprise me if they came up with the new name as well.
 

Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
From memory DERA did have marketing people, they just weren't very good at it. There's a reason they were pronounced "Dearer"........It wouldn't surprise me if they came up with the new name as well.
An aspect of many public-sector PR efforts.

The Technology Catapults, for instance, seem to do little more than share each other's Tweets.
 
From memory DERA did have marketing people, they just weren't very good at it. There's a reason they were pronounced "Dearer"........It wouldn't surprise me if they came up with the new name as well.
I was offered a job there while working for Big And Expensive, but couldn't afford to take the pay cut. Same field of expertise etc.
 

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