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- Strategic focus areas for research at National Defence
- Priorities for science and technology for NORAD modernization
- polar over-the-horizon-radar
- hypersonic and advanced cruise missile defence
- novel and resilient space systems in low earth orbit (LEO)
- autonomy and counter-autonomy
- undersea surveillance
- cyber and artificial intelligence (AI)
- quantum technologies
- cloud-enabled C4ISR
- enabling defence research and development in the Arctic
Strategic focus areas for research at National Defence
Research, development and innovation at the Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces are grouped in eight strategic focus areas, described in the Defence and Security Science and Technology (DSST) program. As the science and technology organization of the Department of National Defence, Defence Research and Development Canada is responsible for administering the DSST program.
Supporting our members today and tomorrow
People are at the heart of defence. It is imperative to ensure our people are capable, diverse, well-prepared and well-supported. To recruit and support Canadian Armed Forces members, we’re enabling innovative methods and tools to help the Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces to:
- reflect and leverage Canadian diversity;
- creatively attract, recruit, and retain a tech-savvy generation within a highly competitive environment;
- optimize training to ensure people are prepared for future operating environments;
- ensure the well-being of our people by protecting and restoring mental and physical health.
Combat in the virtual and physical environment
Enabling engagement in complex missions
Contemporary conflicts are being fought simultaneously on physical, cyber, and cognitive levels. To ensure our members are ready for these pan-domain conflicts, we’re helping the Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces prepare to:
- engage in complex contemporary operating environments that could involve cyber operations and operations in the information environment; autonomous systems; or chemical, biological or nuclear threats;
- make timely and well-informed decisions in all domains and situations;
- help ensure Canadian Armed Forces organizations are ready for future deployments in a range of potential environments.
Advance platforms and weapons
Designing solutions to address evolving threats
The emergence of automation and novel weaponry requires adapting the way the Canadian Armed Forces engages increasingly sophisticated adversaries. We’re harnessing innovation to help ensure the Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces can:
- strengthen defences using advanced applications of autonomy, sensing, materials, and supply chain integrity;
- fight through cyber-attacks, drone swarms, and in electromagnetically contested environments; and
- achieve seamless effects across the land, sea, air, cyber, and space domains.
Accelerate command, control and intelligence
Harnessing cutting-edge information and coordination technologies
Globe-spanning information and communication technologies raise new opportunities as well as risks for the Canadian Armed Forces. Innovation includes exploring new methods and concepts to help the Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces:
- decentralize and semi-automate decisions, and apply the appropriate level of force and lethality across all domains;
- anticipate, prevent, prepare for and mitigate adversaries’ cyber-attacks, disruption, disinformation, and deception;
- leverage dual-use technology, such as artificial intelligence, intelligence advisors, data integrity, social media and new trends to build everyday objects with computing ability, also known as ubiquitous computing; and
- function in all relevant environments, including the high Arctic.
Defend North America
Fortifying cooperative defence of our continental borders
The revival of strategic competitors poses new threats for North America’s defence and our critical domestic and continental infrastructure. We’re helping the Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces to:
- contribute to deterring aggression across all domains; and
- work with the U.S. to modernize NORAD’s air and maritime warning, command and control systems, and air defence capabilities.
Read about space low earth orbit (LEO) architecture.
Enable safety and security
Responding to evolving threats and hazards, and increasingly complex safety and security demands
We use science and technology to help strengthen Canada’s ability to anticipate, prevent, mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from acts of terrorism, crime, natural disasters and serious incidents. We bring together science and technology with domestic policy, operations and intelligence to:
- promote collaboration across public safety and security networks;
- incentivize partnerships to support technology innovators and end-user communities;
- deliver timely, relevant, and credible science and technology advice and knowledge to inform public safety and security decisions.
Enabling organizational efficiency and responsiveness
The Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces are building leaner capabilities able to deploy rapidly across multiple domains in response to global trends. We’re enabling the Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces to:
- become more agile in reacting to and meeting the challenges of future operating environments;
- embrace enterprise data analytics to inform management and procurement decisions; and
- accelerate Force development, procurement, and capability updates.
Evolution of science and technology
Anticipating the future of combat
Global science and technology competition pose challenges for the military dominance of the U.S. and allies. We’re helping the Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces to:
- anticipate security changes sparked by scientific and technological advances;
- modernize the institution, practices, and capabilities;
- interoperate with allies’ technologically advanced forces; and
- prepare to disrupt and surprise adversaries.
Priorities for science and technology for NORAD modernization
Canada’s participation in the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is the cornerstone of Canada’s contribution to the defence of North America, as well as our broader defence relationship with the United States (US). Our coordinated efforts to modernize NORAD’s capabilities will help Canada to meet shared and evolving security challenges, reaffirm shared commitments, and reinforce the close cooperation with the US in the defence of North America.
In June 2022, the Minister of National Defence announced Canada's $38.6 billion plan to modernize NORAD. This investment over 20 years, beginning in 2022-2023, is the largest modernization effort to Canada's NORAD capabilities in a generation. It will support Canada’s ability to detect, deter and, if necessary, defend against emerging aerospace threats, strengthen the defence of NATO’s Western Flank, defend Canada’s Arctic territory and interests, and help ensure North America remains a secure base to project power in support of allies during a crisis or conflict.
One of the pillars in this modernization plan is supporting the research and development (R&D) of future capabilities to support Canada's broader contributions to continental defence by investing in Defence Research and Development Canada’s science and technology (S&T) program. This Continental Defence S&T Investment of $4.23 billion over 20 years will assess new and emerging threats, enable continuous evolution of R&D, and co-develop innovative technological solutions for new and emerging threats on an ongoing basis though collaboration with Canada’s closest allies, particularly with the US.
The Continental Defence S&T Investment will focus on research, development and innovation that will be used to collaborate with Canada’s allies to ensure we can work together while also encouraging Canadian innovators to generate solutions for NORAD modernization and continental defence capabilities.
The Continental Defence S&T Investment will focus on the following priorities:
- Polar over-the-horizon-radar technology to significantly expand NORAD’s awareness of objects entering Canadian airspace from the north.
- Hypersonic and advanced cruise missile defence, including technologies for early detection and tracking of these threats, as well as potential options to defend against these threats to North America.
- Novel and resilient space systems in low earth orbit (LEO), including state-of-the-art space-based surveillance and novel satellite communication capabilities.
- Autonomy and counter-autonomy to allow increased use of semi-autonomous technologies, including air-launched effects, pilot-optional aircraft and new human-machine interfaces, as well as technologies to detect and defend against adversarial uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs).
- Undersea surveillance, including sensors on long-endurance autonomous underwater vehicles to protect Canada’s coastlines as well as other new technologies to monitor Canada’s undersea approaches on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and in the Arctic.
- Cyber and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to create a rapid and decisive information advantage, maintain situational awareness in cyberspace, and to defend against cyber threats to our military systems.
- Quantum technologies to help Canada explore how select quantum-enabled disruptive technologies will enhance, and possibly create game-changing options in the context of NORAD modernization and continental defence.
- Cloud-enabled C4ISR to help Canada acquire a modernized, resilient, robust, adaptive and affordable Command, Control, Communications, Computers (C4) Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) systems-of-systems that are effective in full spectrum operations and will deliver all-domain awareness for NORAD.
- Enabling defence research and development (R&D) in the Arctic to investigate the military implications of climate change, enhance R&D infrastructure in the North and support Canadian Armed Forces operations in the Arctic.
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