Through the Directorate of Science and Technology (DICITECE, in Spanish), the Peruvian Army held the unprecedented Innovate Peruvian Army 2018 technological fair at its headquarters in Lima, July 4th-8th. Dozens of private and public companies, as well as local colleges, displayed their products and services side by side with Peruvian military institutions to promote scientific and technological progress in the country.
More than 20,000 visitors attended the five-day fair to discover Peru’s military and civil cutting-edge technology exhibited in various booths, including land, air and maritime vehicles. Science and technology experts also gave presentations to emphasize the importance of research. “Our main purpose is to develop science and technology in the Army to contribute to national development,” General César Augusto Astudillo Salcedo, commander of the Peruvian Army, said at the opening ceremony.
The event served as a platform for the Peruvian scientific community to display the potential of participants while arousing interest in science among the rural population. The fair also enabled the Peruvian Armed Forces to share with visitors some of the institutional efforts to promote national development and maintain security.
“[The fair] is two-pronged: first, to promote interest in research and innovation in other schools. That is, we encourage competitiveness and continuous improvement in terms of innovation,” Peruvian Army Brigadier General Marcos de la Vega Polanco, director of DICITECE, told Diálogo. “Secondly, we got young people interested in innovation, which simply means implementing an idea and creating value for society.”
Cutting-edge Peruvian technology
The fair allowed the public to discover national products with cutting-edge technology developed for military and police use, such as surveillance and communication systems; virtual intelligence and robotics; weapons, ammunition, and explosives, among others. Technological advances in the medical field, such as prosthetic hands, software applications, and disaster response equipment also figured prominently at the event.
Among the military products on display was a drone prototype developed by the Army’s Fourth Division to support the fight against narcotrafficking and terrorism in the Apurímac, Ene, and Mantaro Rivers Valley. According to the Fourth Division, the drone, with infrared cameras, has the ability to send intelligence, photos, and video in real time, and shoot hand or smoke grenades.
The Peruvian Army School of Engineering of Lima focused its presentations on technology developed for military operations and humanitarian aid, such as virtual models to support search and rescue efforts in collapsed buildings. The school also highlighted the importance of technological advances in arduous operations such as amphibious military tasks and humanitarian mine clearance.
“According to economic figures from relevant entities, the economic growth will be a bit slow, which will limit our military purchases,” Brig. Gen. De la Vega explained. “That’s where science, technology, and research will be our tools to update the weapons we have.”
The Armed Forces displayed some of their current equipment, such as armored vehicles, helicopters, unmanned air vehicles, and satellites, among others. A virtual exhibition also enabled people to experience a short trip aboard vehicles such as an interceptor aircraft.
Science and technology experts gave informative talks about topics such as strategic research, the application of nuclear technology in the defense field, and the importance of scientific and technological research for the development of operational capabilities in the country’s armed forces. “We combined different topics, so the audience would understand how important research is in the Armed Forces. While it’s true that research holds a fundamental role in socioeconomic development, it can improve the organization to be more efficient and contribute to the government’s objectives,” Brig. Gen. De la Vega said.
Agents of change
The Army conducts nationwide science and technology contests with various academic institutions, since 2012, spurring the creation of the fair. The plan came together in early 2018. By May, the Army had more than 100 exhibitions confirmed.
“We worked with [Peruvian Army] Colonel Ángel Gómez Límaco [deputy director of Technological Transfer at DICITECE],” [Peruvian Army] Lieutenant Colonel Gladys Rojas Cangahuala, deputy director of Knowledge Management at DICITECE, told Diálogo. “We did some planning and contacted universities, schools, and companies.”
For DICETECE, the fair was a great success. The Army plans for a regional version in 2019, and adding exhibitors to be able to share it with more people, who will in turn become agents of change.
“When cadets graduate from [the Army’s Chorrillos] Military Academy, they go to all corners of the country, to remote areas,” Brig. Gen. De la Vega said. “They will take the seed of research and innovation to cities where these concepts don’t exist; it’s a way to contribute.”