Defence and Security Science and Technology (DSST) program

In an age of rapid technological, social and geopolitical transformation, the Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces must be continuously ready to counter evolving threats and embrace complex new challenges.

The Defence and Security Science and Technology (DSST) program harnesses innovation to help the Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces align with the objectives outlined in Canada’s defence policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged. The DSST program helps ensure Canada is ready for present and future defence and security threats and challenges by leading science and technology innovation in eight strategic focus areas:


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, the DSST program enables 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 Forces are ready for these pan-domain conflicts, the DSST program is 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. The DSST program is 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 under the DSST program 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. The DSST program is helping the Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces:

  • 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.

Enable Safety and Security

Responding to evolving threats and hazards, and increasingly complex safety and security demands

The DSST program harnesses 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. The program converges 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.

The Institution

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. The DSST program is enabling 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. The DSST program is helping the Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces:

  • 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.

Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC)

As the science and technology organization of the Department of National Defence, Defence Research and Development Canada is responsible for administering the DSST program. DRDC has approximately 1,300 employees at seven research centres across Canada and works in partnership with more than 150 external groups including industry, academia, other government departments and agencies, and international partners.

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