2. Long-term investments to enhance the Canadian Armed Forces’ capabilities and capacity to support peace and security

The scale of our re-investment in the Canadian Armed Forces is significant. This long-term investment is meant to modernize, renew and restore this vital national institution and provide our women and men in uniform with the modern tools they need to succeed in – and return home safely from – operations.

In their valour, competence, compassion and humanitarianism, this country’s sailors, soldiers, and airwomen and men exemplify the best of what it means to be Canadian. They bear the standard for our country abroad, in supporting peace and security, and at home, in times of natural disaster. They shoulder the interlinked burdens of keeping us safe, promoting our values, and helping make the world a better place.

For all these reasons, Canadians want a military that is agile, highly trained, superbly equipped, capable and professional. This policy delivers exactly that. To ensure the Canadian Armed Forces has the people and capabilities it needs to succeed, the Government of Canada is committed to the largest defence modernization effort in decades. This policy contains a comprehensive and funded plan to invest in key emerging domains while simultaneously recapitalizing the core capabilities of the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army, and the Royal Canadian Air Force.

The Canadian Armed Forces will grow by 3,500 (to 71,500 total) military personnel. This will allow us to expand in important areas such space and cyber, intelligence and targeting, and support to the health and welfare of military personnel. These investments will provide the necessary flexibility to enable the Canadian Armed Forces to operate across the spectrum of conflict, enable interoperability with Canada’s allies, and maintain an operational advantage over the threats of today and tomorrow.

The investments in equipment and materiel necessary to underwrite Canada’s future force will match the significant investment in its personnel. The Royal Canadian Navy will acquire 15 Canadian Surface Combatant ships to replace its existing frigates and retired destroyers. This policy now provides the full funding for all 15 ships; this will be one of the largest acquisitions in Canadian shipbuilding history and makes up a core part of the National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS).

The Canadian Army will undergo a recapitalization of much of its land combat capabilities and its aging vehicle fleets while modernizing its command and control systems. Additionally, it will expand its light forces capability which will allow it to be more adaptable in complex operational theatres.

The Royal Canadian Air Force will acquire 88 future fighter aircraft to enforce Canada’s sovereignty and to meet Canada’s NORAD and NATO commitments, while recapitalizing many of its existing aircraft fleets such as the CP-140 Aurora anti-submarine warfare and surveillance aircraft.

Finally, the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command will expand its operational capacity and invest in capabilities that enable Canada’s rapidly deployable and agile Special Forces to provide their unique skills both at home and abroad. In addition to these key investments, this defence policy identifies a number of capability areas in the Reserve Force which will also be funded.

The Canadian Armed Forces has taken great strides in recent years to improve the overall integration of Canada’s military capabilities, as well as the interaction with other government departments, to ensure the security and defence of Canada. The Canadian Armed Forces will leverage the unique characteristics of naval, army, air, and special operations forces and better integrate them to ensure continued Canadian and allied military advantage. The continued integration of Primary Reserve training and equipment with the Regular Force has also contributed substantially to Canadian Armed Forces operations. As our capabilities evolve, the skills inherent in the Reserve Force will produce full-time capabilities through part-time service.

National Shipbuilding Strategy

The National Shipbuilding Strategy is a long-term project to renew Canada’s federal fleet of combat and non-combat vessels. Partnerships were formed with two Canadian shipyards to deliver much-needed vessels to the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Coast Guard. The Strategy provides jobs and benefits to Canadians and rebuilds our country’s industry.

Royal Canadian Navy

Naval forces provide Canada with a responsive and agile means to respond across a wide spectrum of maritime situations, and serve as an instrument of national power on the international stage. Canada possesses a vast maritime estate – it has the world’s longest coastline, the second largest continental shelf, and the fifth largest Exclusive Economic Zone in the world. This calls for naval forces that are designed and structured to operate in some of the most extreme ocean conditions. Further, since a large part of Canada’s prosperity relies on the maintenance of free and open access to international waters for trade and commerce, Canada requires a Navy that is organized and sized to project power responsively and effectively far from Canada’s shores.

This Blue Water Navy requires a balanced mix of platforms, including submarines, surface combatants, support ships and patrol vessels, in sufficient quantities to meet our domestic and international needs. A fleet built around an ability to deploy and sustain two naval task groups, each composed of up to four combatants and a joint support ship, provides Canada with a relevant contribution to any international mission while assuring the ability to monitor our own ocean estate and contribute to the security of North America. The Royal Canadian Navy’s ability to establish persistent presence, be self-sustaining at sea, refocus rapidly from one type of mission to another, and interdict threats far from national territory and populated areas represents a vital component of Canada’s prosperity, security, and defence.

The Royal Canadian Navy’s flexibility, global reach, and staying power, allow it to succeed across a broad mission set: combat operations, rapid provision of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to those in need, defence diplomacy, and collaborating with other government departments and agencies on a daily basis in support of domestic defence and security.

Underpinning this naval capability will be a continued emphasis on building and maintaining a picture of what is happening in our own waters and increasingly overseas – as a means to anticipate and respond to threats, in cooperation with other government departments and agencies as appropriate, as well as our allies. Armed with better awareness and understanding, the Royal Canadian Navy must be able to adapt to an ever-changing maritime environment. The Maritime Tactical Operations Group (MTOG) boarding team capability is an example of this adaptability – it provides an innovative response to the changing nature of threats associated with interdicting vessels at sea. In addition, as the complexity of naval operations increases in the modern threat environment, the Navy will continue to pursue interoperability with allied capabilities. This will ensure that Canada’s fleet can work seamlessly with allies and is positioned to directly leverage these capabilities, increasing its own effectiveness and bolstering credible joint and allied action.

A Naval Task Group

The Naval Task Group is the core Royal Canadian Navy operating concept. Composed of up to four surface combatants and a joint support ship, and supplemented where warranted by a submarine, it brings with it the full breadth of combat capability, force enablers, specialized teams, maritime helicopters, and remotely piloted systems. Configured and crewed to provide its own command and control, a Naval Task Group can lead allied or coalition forces for sustained periods, anywhere in the world.

With the Naval Task Group at its core, the Royal Canadian Navy will be structured to sustain a major international operation, while retaining sufficient combatant capacity for minor operations and/or response to maritime security taskings at home. In addition, the Royal Canadian Navy will have the capacity to maintain a routine presence in Canada’s three oceans and contribute to operations in support of North American security, including in the Caribbean.

The fleet size of 15 Canadian Surface Combatants, complemented by two Joint Support Ships, and four Victoria-class submarines provides the necessary fleet mix and capacity to deploy forces responsively, prepare follow-on forces effectively, and conduct maintenance efficiently.

With new investment, Canada’s Navy will be capable of meeting the anticipated defence and security challenges of the coming decades. Principal among the challenges at home is the need to operate in the Arctic, alongside the Canadian Coast Guard, and alongside allied partners. Key to this is the Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship (AOPS) project, which is part of the National Shipbuilding Strategy and involves the delivery of five to six ice-capable ships to the Royal Canadian Navy. AOPS will provide armed, sea-borne surveillance of Canadian waters, including in the Arctic. They will enforce sovereignty, cooperating with partners, at home and abroad, and will provide the Government of Canada with awareness of activities in Canada’s waters.

Beyond Canada’s shores, the capability to undertake peace operations, including effectively rendering humanitarian assistance and relieving distress, will be a requirement for the Royal Canadian Navy. Canada’s naval forces will also be positioned to contribute meaningfully to joint action ashore and support the sustainment of joint operations from sea, while preserving the ability to defend its own freedom of action through naval combat operations. The multi-purpose nature and versatility of this fleet, both independently and as part of an allied or coalition Task Force, allows Canada to rapidly deploy credible naval forces worldwide, on short notice.

Investments in the Royal Canadian Navy

  1. Recapitalize the surface fleet through investments in 15 Canadian Surface Combatants and two Joint Support Ships.
  2. Acquire five to six Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships.
  3. Operate and modernize the four Victoria-class submarines.
  4. Acquire new or enhanced naval intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance systems, upgraded armament, and additional systems for current and future platforms allowing for more effective offensive and defensive naval capabilities.
  5. Upgrade lightweight torpedoes carried by surface ships, maritime helicopters and maritime patrol aircraft.

Canadian Army

The Canadian Army is a highly professional force consisting of a fully integrated Regular Force, Army Reserve, Canadian Rangers, and civilian personnel. Canadian soldiers train to maintain readiness and develop their high-end war-fighting skills. Experience shows that highly trained, versatile and well-equipped combat forces can rapidly adapt to humanitarian assistance, disaster relief or peace operations.

The Canadian Army is agile, scalable and responsive, providing the Government with a range of military capabilities on land. The Army can deploy as little as a single individual to perform tasks such as capacity building, and it has the depth to permanently shape the security environment through effective deterrence of threats and ultimately, with a critical mass of troops on the ground, to prevail in the most difficult circumstances – combat with an advanced adversary. The flexibility to support small missions while remaining ready to conduct large operations is made possible by the brigade group structure of the Army. It is only at this level that it is possible to execute integrated joint operations with the rest of the Canadian Armed Forces, other government departments, NATO and other allies and partner forces, and non-governmental organizations.

The Brigade Group

The Army trains to fight at the brigade group-level. This is the minimum level at which it is possible to execute joint campaigns while integrating various components, be they from another service, government department, non-governmental organization, or coalition partner. The brigade group consists of approximately 4,800 soldiers, organized in eight major units generally including Artillery, Armour, Infantry, Engineer, and Combat Service Support organizations. Combinations of these units operate together in “battle groups” to provide the joint force with the requisite firepower, mobility, protection, sustainment, and command and control functions to effectively coordinate their employment.

The Army’s operational effectiveness relies on realistic, challenging and regular training up to the brigade group-level. This ensures that deployed Army formations can succeed in any environment regardless of condition.

To adapt to the changing security environment, the Army’s capabilities must allow for efficient and effective communication, command and control; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; manoeuvre; the application of firepower; and sustainment. Maintaining the proper mix of combat capabilities, the ability to operate jointly with the rest of the Canadian military and in concert with key allies and partners is crucial for the Army’s success.

Furthermore, each soldier is an integral component in any task-force, able to anticipate conditions on the ground, provide and receive information and intelligence to and from higher levels, and contribute to taking action at the right time and place in order to achieve mission objectives. All of these capabilities must be networked and integrated, starting with the individual systems carried by each soldier.

Investments in the Canadian Army

  1. Acquire ground-based air defence systems and associated munitions capable of protecting all land-based force elements from enemy airborne weapons.
  2. Modernize weapons effects simulation to better prepare soldiers for combat operations.
  3. Replace the family of armoured combat support vehicles, which includes command vehicles, ambulances and mobile repair teams.
  4. Modernize the fleet of Improvised Explosive Device Detection and Defeat capabilities.
  5. Acquire communications, sustainment, and survivability equipment for the Army light forces, including improved light weight radios and soldier equipment.
  6. Upgrade the light armoured vehicle fleet to improve mobility and survivability.
  7. Modernize logistics vehicles, heavy engineer equipment and light utility vehicles.
  8. Improve the Army’s ability to operate in remote regions by investing in modernized communications, shelters, power generation, advanced water purification systems, and equipment for austere environments.
  9. Modernize land-based command and control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems.
  10. Acquire all-terrain vehicles, snowmobiles and larger tracked semi-amphibious utility vehicles optimized for use in the Arctic environment.

Fundamental to future effectiveness as a combat-ready force, the Canadian Army will recapitalize many core capabilities, such as command, control and communications systems, weapons and soldier night vision systems, and logistic vehicle fleets. The Canadian Army will continue to pursue investment in war-fighting capabilities such as ground-based air defence, bridge and gap crossing equipment, anti-tank guided missile systems, and vehicles to better operate in Canada’s north. These investments in the Canadian Army will further improve interoperability with the Royal Canadian Air Force, Royal Canadian Navy, Special Operations Forces, and Canada’s allies and partners, while maintaining its operational advantage over potential adversaries.

Royal Canadian Air Force

The Royal Canadian Air Force is an agile and integrated force whose reach and power is essential to Canadian Armed Forces operations at home and abroad. Given the vastness of Canada’s territory, it is vitally important for the Canadian Armed Forces to be able to operate throughout Canada on very short notice – the Air Force makes this possible. This strategic reach is also a critical enabler of Canadian Armed Forces global expeditionary operations, enabling joint action through control of the air, force protection, surveillance and reconnaissance, air mobility, and air attack. As space-based capabilities become ever-more important for security and defence, the Royal Canadian Air Force will take on an increasingly important role coordinating and overseeing the defence space program. The Air Force can be task tailored and integrated in a networked force. Every Royal Canadian Air Force platform, be it piloted, remotely piloted or space-based, also acts as a sensor, ensuring that information and intelligence gets to decision-makers in a timely fashion.

The Royal Canadian Air Force generates space-based and aviation surveillance of Canadian territory and its approaches; maintains 24/7 aerial search and rescue response capabilities; and assists civil authorities in responding to a wide range of challenges and threats, from natural disasters to terrorist attacks. Through NORAD, the Royal Canadian Air Force makes substantial contributions to continental defence, generating the vital capabilities required to detect, deter, and defeat threats to both Canada and North America.

The Royal Canadian Air Force Fighter Replacement

In order to counter today’s evolving threat environment and remain highly interoperable with its allies and key operational partners, Canada will procure a fighter capability of 88 jets to replace the aging CF-18 fleet.

Military threats across a range of systems such as advanced fighters and anti-access area denial (A2AD) surface-to-air missile systems, in addition to evolving cyber threats, are making the environment within which the Canadian Armed Forces operates more lethal and complex. As such, the Canadian Armed Forces requires a fighter fleet that is capable, upgradeable, resilient and interoperable with our allies and partners to ensure Canada continues to meet its NORAD and NATO commitments in the future. The fighter aircraft fleet is a critical Canadian Armed Forces capability necessary to enforce Canada’s sovereignty, enable continental security, and contribute to international peace and stability.

In addition to the quality of the fighter capability required, the Royal Canadian Air Force requires sufficient numbers of fighter aircraft to ensure control of Canada’s vast airspace, while maintaining an ability to simultaneously contribute to international operations, conduct pilot training, and to allow for maintenance and repair. The fleet size of 88 fighter aircraft will provide the necessary number of aircraft to fulfill Canada’s commitments,including maintenance and readiness training.

Interim Fighter Capability

At the time of publication, the Government of Canada is continuing to explore the potential acquisition of an interim aircraft to supplement the CF-18 fighter aircraft fleet until the completion of the transition to the permanent replacement aircraft (see above).

This interim capacity would reduce the risk associated with relying exclusively on the aging CF-18 fleet and could help mitigate the capability gap so that Canada can generate sufficient mission ready aircraft to meet its domestic and international obligations until the permanent replacement is fully operational.

The Royal Canadian Air Force also plays a large role in all Canadian deployed operations and is in high demand for NATO, United Nations (UN) peacekeeping, and other coalition missions contributing to international peace and security. Therefore, Royal Canadian Air Force space-based and aviation capabilities must be multi-purpose – equally relevant to domestic and international operations, capable of incorporating and adapting to the latest technology, integrated with all of the capabilities in the Canadian Armed Forces, and interoperable with core allies. These missions have often relied heavily on the strategic and tactical air transport capability provided by the C-17 and C-130J fleets.

In addition, conducting operations from its bases in Canada, the Royal Canadian Air Force will be able to operate from prepared or austere airfields anywhere in the world with an Air Task Force composed of a range of aircraft types.

To continue to meet Canada’s defence needs, the Royal Canadian Air Force must increase interoperability with its key partners and core allies. It will need to sustain existing capacity and continue to acquire modern aerospace capabilities that have an operational advantage in relation to present and future potential adversaries. Future aerospace capabilities must provide for the seamless integration with partners and sharing of information. The Royal Canadian Air Force must be capable of contributing to and exploiting a system-of-systems approach that now defines most modern military forces.

Moreover, the effectiveness of the Royal Canadian Air Force requires continued investment in professional development and education programs focused on the theory and practical application of aerospace power, training programs and systems of the highest calibre, and an institutional culture placing the highest value on the maintenance of air safety and airworthiness standards. Taken together, this assures the agility and flexibility of the Air Force.

Investments in the Royal Canadian Air Force

  1. Replace the CF-18 fleet with 88 advanced fighter aircraft to improve Canadian Armed Forces air control and air attack capability.
  2. Acquire space capabilities meant to improve situational awareness and targeting, including: replacement of the current RADARSAT system to improve the identification and tracking of threats and improve situational awareness of routine traffic in and through Canadian territory; sensors capable of identifying and tracking debris in space that threatens Canadian and allied space-based systems (surveillance of space); and, space-based systems that will enhance and improve tactical narrow- and wide-band communications globally, including throughout Canada’s Arctic region.
  3. Acquire new Tactical Integrated Command, Control, and Communications, radio cryptography, and other necessary communications systems.
  4. Recapitalize next generation strategic air-to-air tanker-transport capability (CC-150 Polaris replacement).
  5. Replace utility transport aircraft (CC-138 Twin Otter replacement).
  6. Acquire next generation multi-mission aircraft (CP-140 Aurora maritime patrol aircraft replacement).
  7. Invest in medium altitude remotely piloted systems.
  8. Modernize short-range air-to-air missiles (fighter aircraft armament).
  9. Upgrade air navigation, management, and control systems.
  10. Acquire aircrew training systems.
  11. Recapitalize or life-extend existing capabilities in advance of the arrival of next generation platforms.
  12. Sustain domestic search and rescue capability, to include life extension of existing systems, acquisition of new platforms, and greater integration with internal and external partners.
  13. Operationalize the newly acquired Fixed-Wing Search and Rescue aircraft fleet.

Canadian Special Operations Forces Command

Special Operations Forces are small, highly skilled, adaptable, multi-purpose forces held at very high readiness levels. Special Operations Forces are employed in situations that pose an imminent threat to national interests, where the use of larger military forces is inappropriate or undesirable, in operational environments where access is limited, and against high-value targets.

These situations benefit from small, well-planned or precision tactical operations. Such activities include: domestic and international counter-terrorist response, discrete intelligence collection, surveillance and reconnaissance activities, specialized capacity building to assist allied host nation forces, and immediate reaction in response to emergent or imminent threats. Flexible, scaleable Special Operations Task Forces often play a role in longer-term military missions but the limited numbers of highly skilled individuals at the heart of such forces typically deploy for limited durations of time.

Canada’s Special Operations Forces structure is lean. It consists of a headquarters commanding Joint Task Force 2 (JTF 2) – Canada’s military counter-terrorism unit; the Canadian Joint Incident Response Unit (CJIRU) – Canada’s military Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear detection and response unit; the Canadian Special Operations Regiment; the Special Operations Aviation Squadron; and the Canadian Special Operations Training Centre.

At its core, Canada’s Special Operations Forces are focused on a cooperative joint, inter-agency, and multinational approach to operations. In order to meet future challenges, the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command will continue this cooperation to support government decision-making in security situations, including counter-terrorism efforts. Additionally, the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command will support international peace and security missions, and contribute to and harness the ‘Global Special Operations Forces Network’ consisting of allied Special Operations Forces.

The lean nature and unique characteristics of Canada’s Special Operations Forces require sustained and tailored investment to ensure continuity and effectiveness over the long-term.

Investments in Special Operations Forces

  1. Acquire airborne Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance platforms.
  2. Recapitalize existing commercial pattern, SUV-type armoured vehicles.
  3. Modernize and enhance Special Operations Forces Command, Control and Communications information systems, and computer defence networks.
  4. Enhance next generation Special Operations Forces integrated soldier system equipment, land mobility, and maritime mobility platforms and fighting vehicle platforms.
  5. Increase Special Operations Forces by 605 personnel.

Canadian Armed Forces Joint Capabilities

Joint capabilities are generally those that facilitate the enhanced command and control of deployed Canadian Armed Forces elements and are fundamental to the Canadian Armed Forces’ ability to anticipate, adapt and act in response to Government of Canada priorities.

The uncertainty and volatility of the security environment, the evolution of technology, and the time required for the development of the people, equipment, systems, and methods that comprise military capability require consistent, sustained, predictable investment. The capability investments outlined in this policy will ensure the Canadian Armed Forces’ preparedness for the future through the development, sustainment and enhancement of the core combat and critical enabling capabilities necessary for an integrated, innovative, flexible, adaptable, and interoperable force.

These investments will provide the Government of Canada and Canadians with a capable, adaptable military able to promote and protect Canadian interests and values at home and abroad.

Investments in Joint Capabilities

  1. Acquire joint command and control systems and equipment, specifically for integrated information technology and communications.
  2. Acquire joint signals intelligence capabilities that improve the military’s ability to collect and exploit electronic signals intelligence on expeditionary operations.
  3. Improve the capabilities of the Joint Deployable Headquarters and Signals Regiment, including the portable structures that house the headquarters when deployed and the equipment employed by that headquarters for command, control, and communications.
  4. Improve cryptographic capabilities, information operations capabilities, and cyber capabilities to include: cyber security and situational awareness projects, cyber threat identification and response, and the development of military-specific information operations and offensive cyber operations capabilities able to target, exploit, influence, and attack in support of military operations.
  5. Improve Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosive detection and response capabilities.
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