Domestic and Continental Defence

JTF2 Relocation – Dwyer Hill Upgrade

  • Since 1993, Joint Task Force 2 has protected Canadian national interests and combated terrorism and threats to Canadians at home and abroad.
  • Our Special Forces personnel risk their lives to keep Canadians safe, and we are dedicated to delivering them the tools and training that they need to stay ready.
  • That is why we announced a $1.4 billion infrastructure project to upgrade special operations forces’ facilities at the Dwyer Hill Training Centre in Ottawa.
  • The 10-year construction project will provide a purpose-built space to meet Joint Task Force 2’s long-term growth, training, and high-readiness operational needs.
  • In these Main Estimates, we are requesting $128.6 million for fiscal year 2023-24 to begin work on replacing 89 ageing and temporary structures with 23 new facilities, renovating seven buildings, and upgrading the site’s utilities.
  • Construction is set to begin in May 2023, and the unit’s training and operations will continue on-site while the work is underway.
  • Additionally, the project will create approximately 2,000 jobs and will contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from Defence buildings to meet the federal target of net-zero emissions by 2050.
  • This investment demonstrates our commitment to providing Canadian Armed Forces personnel with modern, green, and functional infrastructure in which to work and train.

Key Facts

  • The construction project will provide more than 100,000 m2 of purpose-built space to meet Joint Task Force 2’s long-term needs.
  • The new facilities will be net-zero ready and meet environmental design standards.
  • New or renovated buildings will include modern office, operations and technical shop spaces, as well as a new range, training, warehouse, medical, accommodations, access control, kitchen, mess, ammunition, equipment and vehicle storage facilities.
  • Economic Benefits:
    • Approximately 2,000 jobs will be created throughout the project, with as many as 250 to 300 people working on-site during peak construction periods.
    • This project will include more than 150 sub-contracts to provide greater opportunities for local and smaller contractors to bid on work.
    • Five percent of the value of all contracts are targeted for award to Indigenous businesses to create economic benefits for Indigenous Peoples.

NORAD Modernization and Continental Defence

  • We are committed to ensuring the safety of Canadians and contributing to the security of North America.
  • In today’s global environment, NORAD has renewed importance in safeguarding North America against rapidly changing threats.
  • In fact, we routinely cooperate with the United States in the Arctic and hold various joint exercises that promote interoperability and shared expertise in northern operations.
  • This January, American and Canadian personnel conducted a series of Arctic activities as part of NORAD’s Operation NOBLE DEFENDER, demonstrating allied collaboration and integration.
  • We are also investing $38.6 billion over twenty years to modernize our contribution to NORAD.
  • In these Main Estimates, National Defence is requesting $115.4 million to advance key NORAD modernization initiatives, such as Arctic and Polar Over-the-Horizon Radar, and research of emerging threats and advanced space-based capabilities.
  • These funds will also be used to sustain Arctic defence capabilities and facilitate strategic equipment upgrades.
  • Last month, National Defence released a detailed update on the 19 projects we will advance under NORAD modernization.
  • This includes enhanced surveillance, improved command, control, and communications, modernized air weapons systems, infrastructure and support, and research and development.
  • We will also create a fund to enable Indigenous partners to meaningfully engage with National Defence as we deliver these initiatives and on shared interests more broadly.
  • Taken together, this marks the most significant upgrade to Canada’s NORAD capabilities in nearly four decades.
  • As reaffirmed by the Prime Minister and President Biden in March, we are undertaking these modernization efforts in collaboration with our American partners so that we adapt to evolving security challenges together.

If pressed on short-term action to bolster continental defence:

  • Canada continues to work closely with the U.S. to detect, deter, and defend against threats to North America – every day and in all domains.
  • We are investing in new applications related to Over-the-Horizon Radar and space-based surveillance, which will greatly enhance early warning and tracking of potential threats to North America.
  • We expect to reach initial operating capability by 2028 for Arctic Over-the-Horizon Radar.
  • In addition to implementing NORAD modernization plans, we continue to advance a number of key procurement projects that are relevant to continental defence, including the acquisition of the F-35 and a new fleet of air-to-air refuelling aircraft.
  • We anticipate reaching initial operation capability by 2029 for additional air-to-air refuelling, as well as infrastructure upgrades across Canada that will accommodate the new F-35 aircraft.

Key Facts

  • On June 20, 2022, National Defence announced $3 billion over six years with $1.9 billion in remaining amortization for NORAD modernization ($4.9 billion on a cash basis). This is part of the $38.6 billion investment on an accrual basis over 20 years ($87.4 billion on a cash basis) for new capabilities.
  • Our NORAD modernization investments are focused on five key areas:
    • enhancing surveillance and threat detection;
    • improving command, control, and communications;
    • modernizing air weapons systems;
    • upgrading our infrastructure and support capabilities; and
    • investing in research and development.
  • In March 2023, National Defence released a detailed update on NORAD modernization, which included estimated timelines for projects under each of the five identified areas of investment.
  • Canada contributes fighter aircraft, bases and Forward Operating Locations across the country to NORAD, and approximately 1,000 Canadian Armed Forces members support NORAD missions.
  • The Canadian Armed Forces maintains a year-round presence in the Arctic through operations, exercises, and training activities.
  • Approximately 300 full-time military personnel are in the North.
  • Operation NANOOK-NUNALIVUT: Conducted from March 1 to 20, 2023, in and around Rankin Inlet, Nunavut.
  • Through this operation, over 200 Canadian Armed Forces personnel conducted joint long-range patrols, complex logistical support, and under-ice diving activities with armed forces members from Norway, Belgium, France, and the UK.
  • Canadian Rangers: There are approximately 5,000 Canadian Rangers in 200 remote and isolated communities, including over 1,700 in the Arctic region.


Funding for NORAD Modernization

  • Strong, Secure, Engaged: Canada’s Defence Policy” outlined the vision for Canada’s continued cooperation with the U.S. to meet emerging threats and perils to North America through the modernization of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and continental defence efforts.
  • NORAD modernization is a long-term project and the investments announced by the Minister of National Defence in June 2022 will support NORAD and the Canadian Armed Forces’ (CAF) ability to protect Canadians against new and emerging aerospace threats to Canada and North America more broadly.
  • Specific investments will include, among other initiatives, new Over-the-Horizon radar systems; command, control, and communications upgrades; additional air-to-air refueling aircraft; advanced air-to-air missiles for fighter jets; upgrades to CAF infrastructure in the North; and additional funding to complete and augment key space projects, broken down into 5 inter-related areas of investment:
  • Bolstering our ability to detect threats earlier and more precisely by modernizing our surveillance systems ($6.96B from fiscal year 22/23 - 41/42)
  • Improving our ability to understand and communicate threats to decision-makers in a timely manner through upgrades to our command, control, and communications systems ($4.13B from fiscal year 22/23 - 41/42)
  • Strengthening our ability to deter and defeat aerospace threats by modernizing our air weapons systems ($6.38B from fiscal year 22/23 - 41/42)
  • Ensuring our Canadian Armed Forces can launch and sustain a strong military presence across the country, including in Canada’s North, through investments in new infrastructure and support capabilities ($15.68B from fiscal year 22/23 - 41/42)
  • Future-proofing our capabilities to defend North America through investments in science and technology ($4.23B from fiscal year 22/23 - 41/42)

Canadian Armed Forces Contribution to NORAD

  • Approximately 1,000 Canadian Armed Forces members support NORAD in fulfilling its missions of aerospace warning, aerospace control, and maritime warning for the defence of North America.
  • Canada also contributes fighter aircraft, command, communications and control nodes, bases and Forward Operating Locations across the country.
  • Canada is also responsible for maintaining and operating the Canadian portion of the North Warning System, a chain of radar stations stretching from Alaska to Labrador.
  • 1 Canadian Air Division (1 CAD): Canadian NORAD Region headquarters in Winnipeg, Manitoba, provides operational command and control of assigned assets while the CADS located in North Bay, Ontario provides tactical command and control of assigned assets for the Canadian NORAD Region.

NORAD Missions

  • Aerospace warning: detection, validation, and warning of attack against North America by aircraft, missiles, or space vehicles.
  • Aerospace control: detection, interception, and if necessary, engagement of any air-breathing threat to Canada and the U.S.
  • Maritime warning: processing, assessing, and disseminating intelligence and information related to the respective maritime areas, internal waterways, and approaches to the U.S. and Canada.


  • National Defence is working to establish and integrate NORAD modernization projects into the broader Defence program, move out on early priorities in the 20-year plan, and lay the ground for deeper partner and stakeholder engagement on the full suite of initiatives over the coming months and years.
  • National Defence continues to conduct engagements with Northern provincial, territorial and Indigenous governments and organizations, taking a distinctions-based approach, to build relationships and hear their priorities relating to potential NORAD modernization investments.
  • As implementation progresses, National Defence will strive to deliver capabilities that are relevant to, and inclusive of, all Canadians, and underpinned by meaningful dialogue with Indigenous and Northern governments and partners.
  • In implementing the United National Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Arctic and Northern Policy Framework, and the Inuit Nunangat Policy, National Defence is committed to incorporating Indigenous perspectives into relevant defence activities.

Inuit-Crown Partnership Committee (ICPC):

  • As a result of engagement in support of continental defence and NORAD modernization proposals, the Minister of National Defence was invited to join the Inuit-Crown Partnership Committee in April 2022 as a way to formalize and improve cooperation and collaboration with Inuit partners on defence in the Arctic.
    • The regular engagement in ICPC provides an opportunity to affirm our commitment to advancing reconciliation, enhance the relationship with Inuit, and make real progress on common priorities.
    • ICPC leaders meet three times a year, including one meeting co-chaired by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Natan Obed. At the officials’ level, the ICPC Sovereignty, Defence, and Security working group also meets at least three times a year.

Arctic and Northern Policy Framework (ANPF)

  • In September 2022, the Parliamentary Secretary of National Defence participated at the ANPF annual Leaders Meeting and presented on NORAD modernization.
  • To better understand Northern territorial and Indigenous priorities, and to engage them in the development of proposals, National Defence engaged the ANPF All Partners Working Group three times in 2021-2022 on NORAD modernization.
  • Following an incident in Yukon in February 2023 involving a high-altitude object, National Defence engaged the ANPF All Partners Working Group to provide Northern territorial and Indigenous partners with an update, including a high-level, unclassified threat briefing on the Arctic.
    • This is in addition to operational-level engagements with local governments, which were conducted by Joint Task Force North following the downing of the object and throughout the subsequent search efforts.

CAF Footprint in the Arctic

  • The CAF exercises surveillance and control in the Arctic, maintains a visible and persistent presence, responds to aeronautical search and rescue (SAR) incidents, assists provinces and territories with ground SAR operations and natural disaster emergencies when required, supports Arctic and Northern peoples and communities, and contributes to whole of government priorities in the region.
  • The CAF’s permanent presence in the North is anchored by Joint Task Force North (JTF-N) in Yellowknife, along with 440 Transport Squadron RCAF,1 Canadian Ranger Patrol Group Headquarters and a Company of reserve infantry. Team North has approximately 300 personnel, including two JTF-N detachments in Whitehorse and Iqaluit.
  • National Defence also has a number of assets used by NORAD, including the North Warning System, and three Forward Operating Locations in Yellowknife, Inuvik, and Iqaluit, which can accommodate fighter aircraft and other assets supporting NORAD operational requirements and exercises on a temporary basis.
  • Through NORAD modernization, National Defence is investing in upgrading the Forward Operating Locations, as well as Goose Bay. This will support a more robust NORAD and CAF presence when needed, with potential opportunities for multipurpose infrastructure at these sites that could benefit local communities, including Indigenous partners.

North Warning System Maintenance and Upgrades

  • While the North Warning System plays an important role in our contribution to NORAD, its surveillance capabilities are challenged by evolving air and missile threats.
  • This is why we are investing in new technological solutions that will form part of the future Northern Approaches Surveillance System, which will greatly enhance early warning and tracking of potential threats to North America.
  • In these Main Estimates, National Defence is requesting $16.6 million to maintain the North Warning System’s capability to provide actionable radar coverage across the Arctic.
  • Through this investment in an essential radar system, we will continue to sustain our continental defence capabilities, fulfill our commitments to NORAD, and ensure the safety of Canadians.
  • National Defence is exploring the potential role of the North Warning System in the future surveillance network, with consideration to operational requirements and the broader benefits of defence investment in the North.
  • Accordingly, in January 2022, the Government awarded a contract for the operations, maintenance, and sustainment services of the North Warning System to Nasittuq Corporation, an Inuit majority-owned company.
  • The seven-year contract, which began in April 2022, is valued at $592M, and includes four, two-year option periods for extension, for a total estimated value of $1.3 billion.
  • The North Warning System will be maintained at least until new capabilities, such as Over-the-Horizon Radar, are operational.
  • We expect to reach initial operating capability by 2028 for Arctic Over-the-Horizon Radar.

Key Facts

  • The North Warning System (NWS) includes 10 operational Long Range Radars (LRR), 36 unattended Short Range Radar (SRR) sites and five Logistics Support Sites (LSS) across Northern Canada.
  • It also comprises the North Warning System Control Centre (NWSCC) and the North Warning System Support Centre (NWSSC), which are located and operated at 22 Wing, North Bay, Ontario.
  • 45 of the 47 Canadian NWS radar sites are located within three Inuit Settlement Areas across Canada’s North and are maintained through a contract with Nasittuq, an Inuit majority-owned company. They are remotely monitored and controlled by NORAD from the Canadian Air Defence Sector (CADS), located at 22 Wing, North Bay, Ontario.


Maintenance and Sustainment

  • In January 2022, the Government of Canada awarded a contract to Nasittuq Corporation to provide operations, maintenance and sustainment services to the North Warning System. Nasittuq Corporation is an Inuit majority-owned corporation. The seven-year contract, which began on 1 April 2022, is valued at $592M ($527 million before taxes). The contract also includes four two-year option periods for a total estimated value of $1.3 billion ($1.1 billion before taxes).
  • Through this contract, Nasittuq will be responsible for remote site operations, including but not limited to helipads, gravel runways, more than 100 buildings and over 300 bulk fuel storage tanks. The work involves maintenance, logistics support, airlift coordination, environmental systems management, systems engineering and project management for the entire NWS.
  • This process reflects the Government of Canada’s commitment to renewing and strengthening its economic relationship with the Inuit and ensuring that federal procurement is compliant with Inuit treaties.
  • The NWS will be maintained at least until new capabilities are sufficiently robust. It is expected that key elements of the future surveillance system will reach initial operational capability at various points between 2028 and 2035.

Future Northern Approaches Surveillance System

  • The Minister’s announcement of Canada’s plan to modernize NORAD in June 2022, which is funded through an investment of $38.6 billion over twenty years on an accrual basis, identified specific capabilities that will form part of the future Northern Approaches Surveillance System. These include:
    • Arctic Over-the-Horizon Radar system to provide early warning radar coverage and threat tracking from the Canada-United States border to the Arctic circle (scheduled initial operating capability in 2028);
    • A Polar Over-the-Horizon Radar system to provide early warning radar coverage over and beyond the northernmost approaches to North America, including the Canadian Arctic archipelago (scheduled to initial operating capability in 2032); and
    • National Defence will also work with the United States to develop a complementary network of sensors (CROSSBOW) with classified capabilities, distributed across Northern Canada, as another layer of detection (scheduled for initial operating capability in 2029).

Space Based Surveillance Systems

  • Currently, the Government of Canada owned RADARSAT Constellation Mission (RCM) satellites are critical to monitoring Canada’s Arctic, navigable sea routes and coastal areas, as well as providing global surveillance for the Canadian Armed Forces. The RCM project has a seven-year design life, and is expected to be fully operational until 2026.
  • To replace the RCM, National Defence has started a project to have its own dedicated radar satellite constellation, which will include two projects that are expected to become operational in 2035;
    • The Enhanced Satellite Communications Project – Polar (ESCP-P) will provide sovereign, dedicated, reliable and secure communications to enable core Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) capabilities in the Arctic. Its Initial Operating Capability (IOC) and Full Operational Capability (FOC) are expected for 2034/2035 and 2037/2038, respectively.
    • The Defence Enhanced Surveillance from Space Project (DESSP) is the planned replacement and upgrade of capabilities provided by RADARSAT Constellation Mission and Polar Epsilon 2. The system, through unique DND/CAF ground processing, will provide DND/CAF with the capability to conduct global surveillance with a key focus on Maritime Domain Awareness. The DESSP will contribute to the Five Eyes intelligence network as part of Canada’s commitment to allied burden sharing arrangements.
  • The Royal Canadian Air Force is working closely with the Canadian Space Agency to determine how to fill the gap between the RCM end-of-life – anticipated for 2026 – and IOC of ESCP-P (2034/2035). This could include various options, including purchasing a satellite to replenish par of the RCM constellation, obtaining space data from allied satellites, or purchasing imagery from industry partners.

Air and Missile Defence

  • Evolving air and missile threats, such as hypersonic weapons and advanced cruise missiles, make it more important than ever to collaborate with the U.S. to defend our shared continent.
  • As a top priority, we are investing $38.6 billion over twenty years on an accrual basis in NORAD modernization.
  • In fact, $6.4 billion of this funding will go toward buying and sustaining new advanced short-, medium- and long-range air-to-air missiles.
  • We are also making important investments in:
    • next generation sensors to monitor our airspace and approaches and provide earlier warning of threats;
    • technology-enabled command, control, and communications to better interpret intelligence data and ensure timely, informed decisions.
  • Along with acquiring Canada’s fleet of F-35 aircraft, these efforts will enhance North America’s collective deterrence posture that safeguards the safety and prosperity of Canada and our Allies.
  • While Canada’s position on participating in the U.S. ballistic missile defence system has not changed, we remain committed to strengthening our ability to defend North America against a full range of threats.  

If pressed on whether the U.S. would protect Canada:

  • Engaging in the interception of a ballistic missile outside Canada would be a sovereign decision made solely by the U.S.
  • Canada cooperates closely with the U.S. on defending against other air and missile threats, such as cruise missiles, through NORAD.


  • Given the complexity of modern missile threats, many of Canada’s Allies are moving towards adopting the concept of Integrated Air and Missile Defence (IAMD), which aims to remove gaps that exist between different types of air and missile defence systems, and optimizes the overall defence architecture to meet the full range of threats.
  • Investment in NORAD modernization: Many of Canada’s investments in NORAD modernization will help support developing an integrated system that can defend against a broad range of air and missile threats. For example:
    • Investments in Over-the-Horizon Radar, layered with space-based surveillance will ensure Canada and NORAD can detect, identify, and track modern threats;
    • Modernizing command, control, and communications systems will enable senior leaders to make faster decisions more effectively in order to maximize deterrence and defence options;
    • Advanced air-to-air missiles will enhance capability of engaging threats from short-, medium-, and long-range distances and will be compatible with F-35s;
    • Augmenting key defence and logistics capabilities will extend the CAF’s range and mobility to respond to defence, safety, and security concerns throughout Canada, including in the aerospace domain through NORAD;
    • Enhancing existing infrastructure in the North will ensure that Canada can safeguard its sovereignty by supporting new aircraft and enhancing more sustainable operations and presence in Canada’s Northern and remote regions;
    • Pursuing ongoing research and development to better understand emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, hypersonic, alternative energy and cyber, and enable Canada to develop strong defences against new threats.

Infrastructure and Procurement in the North

  • National Defence takes our Northern sovereignty and security seriously, and remains committed to defending Canadian interests here at home and across the circumpolar Arctic.
  • That is why we are investing $38.6 billion over the next 20 years to modernize Canada’s contribution to NORAD, with key investments in our northern regions to strengthen surveillance and presence.
  • We are also moving forward with the procurement of fighter jets, Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems, Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships, and the replacement of the CP-140 Auroras.
  • As we continue to enhance our capabilities and northern presence, we will continue to engage with Indigenous, provincial, and territorial partners.

If pressed on delays for the Nanisivik Naval Facility

  • Infrastructure work in the Arctic poses many challenges, including complex logistics.
  • Work is ongoing to complete the Nanisivik Naval Facility, which will operate as a docking and refueling facility to support the Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships and other government vessels.
  • We are working to find solutions that could allow the Naval Facility to begin operations in 2025.

If pressed on delays or additional costs for the Inuvik Airport Runway Extension Project

  • As part of our efforts to enhance capabilities in the North, National Defence has committed $230 million for a runway extension at the Inuvik Airport.
  • The announced increase in the project’s cost is a result of delays from the COVID-19 pandemic, supply chain issues, and rising material costs.
  • National Defence supports the project and recognizes its importance for the region and for the local community.
  • We will continue to work with the Government of the Northwest Territories, which is responsible for all aspects of the project, to help keep the project moving forward.

If pressed on the expired lease contract for the Inuvik Hangar Facilities:

  • National Defence maintains a number of assets in the North that support operational requirements and, where possible, benefit local communities. 
  • We are working to ensure the Canadian Armed Forces have the appropriate facilities to support northern operations, including through our investments in NORAD modernization.

If pressed on potential allied concerns:

  • Canada and the United States have a shared interest in Arctic Security and have cooperated in this region for decades, including through NORAD operations.

If pressed on potential sale to a foreign company:

  • A foreign company purchasing the hangar would trigger the Investment Canada Act. If a sale is made we will have an opportunity to conduct a review of the transaction.

Key Facts

  • Budget 2022: Allocates $6.1B over five years, with $1.3B in remaining amortization to increase defence capabilities, improve continental defence, and support commitments to our allies.
  • Budget 2021: Allocates an initial $252.2M over five years, with $160M in remaining amortization, starting in 2021-22, to lay the groundwork for continental defence and NORAD modernization.
  • Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships: HMCS Harry Dewolf transited the Northwest Passage in September 2021.


National Defence Initiatives to Enhance the CAF’s Ability to Operate in the North

  • Participating in space-based global SAR capabilities through its contributions to the Medium Earth Orbit SAR system. National Defence is also building two SAR ground terminals in Canada and is providing SAR repeaters on a satellite system, greatly increasing the range in which emergency beacons can be detected.
  • Enhancing Canada’s surveillance of northern approaches and northern presence through investments in Over-the-Horizon Radar, space-based surveillance and communications capabilities, improvements to northern basing, and support capabilities that will extend the reach of the CAF as part of NORAD modernization.

Inuvik Airport Runway Extension Project

  • Owned by the Government of the Northwest Territories, Inuvik’s Mike Zubko Airport hosts civilian aircraft and acts as a Forward Operating Base for the Royal Canadian Air Force and NORAD. As part of its role as a Forward Operating Base, the airport’s 6,000-foot runway is primarily used for CF-18 operations supporting Canadian sovereignty in the North and NORAD operations and exercises.
  • Upgrades to the Inuvik runway are primarily focused on improving the airfield’s suitability to operate larger and heavier aircraft, which is an important enhancement to NORAD and the Royal Canadian Air Force’s (RCAF) ability to operate in the North and Arctic. This work is vital to ensuring the CAF continue to have the capability to meet emerging security challenges across the North and Arctic and aligns with Minister Anand’s June 2022 announcement of Canada’s plan to modernize its NORAD capabilities.
  • The project was initially expected to cost up to $150 million. Following third-party reviews, the revised project cost is estimated at $230 million due to delays from the COVID-19 pandemic, supply chain issues, and rising material costs.

Cyber Capabilities

  • Cyberspace is critical when conducting modern military operations.
  • Operating within cyberspace includes both opportunities and challenges.
  • For example, the CAF can gain strategic advantage through digitally enabled communications, intelligence, and weapon systems.
  • But the use of these technologies can also open us up to vulnerabilities if they are not adequately secured and defended from cyber threats.
  • Canada’s adversaries are certainly leveraging and developing cyber capabilities in an effort to exploit these vulnerabilities in both civilian and military systems.
  • Given these realities, the CAF continues to defend its own networks, platforms and information systems against cyber threat actors and impose costs on adversaries through the conduct of full spectrum cyber operations as authorized by the Government of Canada.
  • We are also providing assistance to allies and partners.
  • For example, the CAF currently provides cyber defence assistance to Latvia and Ukraine to bolster the ability of both nations to defend against malicious cyber activities. 
  • The work of the CAF is also supported by the Communications Security Establishment, which is Canada’s technical authority for cyber security and provides unique operational capabilities.
  • CSE, supported by its Canadian Cyber Security Centre, employs sophisticated cyber tools and technical expertise to help identify, prepare for, and defend against cyber threats to the Government of Canada, industry, academia, and Canadians writ large.
  • In 2019, the CSE Act granted CSE authorities to conduct foreign cyber operations to take online action to disrupt foreign threats to Canada and achieve international affairs, defence, and security objectives.
  • The CAF contributes to international peace and security through cyber threat intelligence sharing with Allies and partners, and through the conduct of full spectrum cyber operations as authorized by the Government of Canada.
  • Canada, in conjunction with our allies and partners, will continue to advance a stable cyberspace built on respect for international law and the norms of responsible state behaviour in cyberspace.

Key Facts

  • Canadian Armed Forces Cyber Capabilities

    • The Canadian Armed Forces continues to develop and scale its offensive and defensive cyber operations capabilities in close cooperation with CSE.
    • This partnership enables cyber operations and provides the Government of Canada flexibility in achieving strategic objectives.
    • The Canadian Armed Forces holds the responsibility of safeguarding its military networks on a continuous basis and conducts full spectrum cyber operations in support of military operations, including in collaboration with CSE and international partners. 
    • Canada has publicly announced that the CAF conduct cyber operations under Operation REASSURANCE in Latvia and Operation UNIFIER in Ukraine.

    Communications Security Establishment

    • The CSE Act sets out five aspects of CSE’s mandate, including:
      • Cybersecurity and information assurance;
      • Foreign intelligence;
      • Defensive cyber operations;
      • Active cyber operations; and
      • Technical and operational assistance.


CAF Cyber Capabilities

  • DND/CAF’s approach to cyber is shaped by its 2017 defence policy, Strong Secure, Engaged (SSE), which committed the CAF to assuming a more assertive posture in the cyber domain by hardening its defences, and by conducting offensive cyber operations against potential adversaries as part of government-authorized military missions. SSE includes five key initiatives related to DND/CAF’s military cyber capabilities:
  • Build capability and conduct active cyber operations in support of Government-authorized missions;
  • Grow and enhance the cyber force by creating a new CAF Cyber Operator occupation to attract Canada’s best and brightest talent;
  • Use Reservists with specialized skill-sets to fill elements of the CAF cyber force;
  • Invest in command and control infrastructure, cyber defence, and network situational awareness to enhance the security of DND/CAF’s military networks and equipment; and;
  • Protect critical military networks and equipment from cyber-attack by establishing a new Cyber Mission Assurance Program that will incorporate cyber security requirements into the procurement process.
  • The authority for CAF to conduct offensive cyber operations is approved by the Government on a mission-by-mission basis and in accordance with domestic and international law.
  • In 2022, Canada published its national position on the applicability of international law in cyberspace in an effort to strengthen the understood parameters for responsible State behaviour and help foster a more stable and secure in cyberspace.
  • At the request of Canada’s Latvian Allies, the CAF deployed a Cyber Task Force to Riga to conduct a bilateral defensive cyber threat hunting operation on Latvian government and non-government critical infrastructure. Cyber security experts from DND/CAF and CSE serve as part of the Task Force in support of these defensive operations in Latvia. These defensive cyber operations in support of our NATO Allies have allowed Canada to reinforce the work of NATO Eastern Flank Allies to defend and deter against Russian aggression in the region.
  • At the request of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, the CAF has been bolstering Ukraine’s cyber defence capabilities since early 2022. This support includes the provision of 24/7 cyber security expertise, cyber threat intelligence, software tools and engineering solutions to the Armed Forces of Ukraine to enable the better defence of its networks and other critical systems against malicious cyber activities.
  • Canada’s Indo-Pacific Strategy announced a $47.4M investment to fund a cyber component dedicated to strengthening cyber engagement and diplomacy in the region. This notably includes cyber capacity building assistance and strengthening partnerships in defence/cyber interoperability with regional partners.

Cyber Mission Assurance Program

  • Strong, Secure, Engaged (SSE) directed the creation of the Cyber Mission Assurance Program. It is part of the cyber capability to protect critical military networks and equipment from cyber threats. Platforms like aircraft, ships, and vehicles are becoming increasingly dependent on cyberspace. The Cyber Mission Assurance Program ensures that cyber resilience is a primary consideration when new equipment is procured.
  • Cyber threats pose unique challenges in projecting and sustaining military power. The changing global environment and the increasing dependence on cyberspace technologies demands a significant change in our culture. The introduction of cyber-resiliency mindset in all our activities is required for the CAF to maintain its competitive advantage. The Cyber Mission Assurance Program focuses on managing the risks associated with cyber threats, to improve resilience, and increase the probability of mission success.

CAF and CSE Cooperation

  • The CAF and CSE have a long history of partnership in the development of highly technical and specialized capabilities that support CAF operations.
  • These activities are subject to the rigorous system of internal policies and procedures of both organizations as well as independent oversight and review.
  • Cooperation between the CAF and CSE ensures the best use of tools and capabilities, reduces unnecessary duplication of efforts, leverages each other’s authorities, and improves the chances of meeting mission objectives.

CSE and its Canadian Centre for Cyber Security

  • Cyber security is a foundation for Canada’s future, for our digital economy, our personal safety and national prosperity and competitiveness.
  • Recent geopolitical events have elevated the potential risk of cyber threats, as outlined in the 2023-2024 National Cyber Threat Assessment.
  • CSE uses its sophisticated cyber and technical expertise to help monitor, detect, and investigate threats against Canada’s information systems and networks, and to take active measures to address them.
  • CSE may use defensive cyber operations to defend Canada against foreign cyber threats by taking online action. This authority can also be used to defend systems designated by the Minister of National Defence as being of importance to the Government of Canada, such as energy grids, telecommunications networks, healthcare databases, banking systems, and elections infrastructure.
  • As outlined in section 19 of the CSE Act, the active cyber operations aspect of CSE’s mandate is to carry out activities on or through the global information infrastructure to degrade, disrupt, influence, respond to, or interfere with the capabilities, intentions or activities of a foreign individual, state, organization, or terrorist group as they relate to international affairs, defence, or security.
  • CSE continues to publish advice and guidance to help organizations be less vulnerable and more secure. It works with industry partners, including government and non-government partners, to share threat information and cyber security best practices.
  • Cyber security is a whole-of-society concern, and the federal government works together with other jurisdictions, small-and-medium sized organizations, as well as critical infrastructure network defenders to raise Canada’s cyber security bar.
  • If Canadian companies have been impacted by cyber threats, they are urged to contact

Privacy Protections and Safeguards

  • CSE is prohibited by law from directing its cyber or intelligence activities at Canadians or any person in Canada and must not infringe the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This prohibition is clearly defined in its legislative powers and extends to its foreign intelligence and cyber operations mandate to ensure that Canadian Charter obligations and the privacy of Canadians are respected and preserved.
  • Cyber operations conducted under CSE authorities require the Minister of National Defence to issue a Ministerial Authorization, which requires either consultation with the Minister of Foreign Affairs (for defensive cyber operations) or at the request of or with the consent of the Minister of Foreign Affairs (for active cyber operations).
  • In conducting cyber operations, Canada recognizes the importance of adhering to international law and agreed norms of responsible state behaviour in cyberspace. Canada’s authorities and governance framework to conduct cyber operations is supported by strong independent and parliamentary review process, as well as internal oversight for operational compliance.
  • Overall, Canada’s authorities and governance framework to conduct cyber operations is supported by strong independent and parliamentary review processes, as well as internal oversight for operational compliance.

Impact of Climate Change on CAF Operations

  • Climate change is affecting the frequency, duration, and intensity of Canadian Armed Forces operations, both at home and abroad, placing unprecedented demands on our resources.
  • In Canada and around the world, climate change effects are also transforming the physical and security landscape, and bringing about an evolving set of security challenges.
  • That is why we are increasingly integrating climate considerations into our equipment, infrastructure, and operational planning.
  • For example, infrastructure requirements now include both adaptation and greenhouse gas reduction considerations to support federal net-zero targets and improve resiliency. 
  • We are also working with our Allies to establish a NATO Climate Change and Security Centre of Excellence in Montréal to better understand climate change security challenges and better inform military preparedness.
  • We will continue to evaluate how climate change impacts our resources and priorities to ensure we remain ready to protect Canadians at home and abroad.

Key Facts

  • Strong, Secure, Engaged: Recognizes the security implications of climate change both at home and abroad, including:
    • Threats to the Arctic;
    • An increasing demand for CAF assets to respond to natural disasters in Canada and abroad; and,
    • Climate change’s role in exacerbating the drivers of conflict in fragile states.
  • NATO Climate Change and Security Centre of Excellence: At the June 2022 NATO Summit in Madrid, Canada announced that Montréal would host the NATO Climate Change and Security Centre of Excellence.
  • This Centre will help NATO, Allies, and other global partners better understand, adapt to, and mitigate the impacts of climate change on our security.
    • Budget 2023 proposes to provide $40.4 million over five years, starting in 2023-24, with $0.3 million in remaining amortization and $7 million ongoing, to Global Affairs Canada and the Department of National Defence to establish the NATO Centre of Excellence.
  • Greening the Federal Fleet: The Royal Canadian Air Force and Royal Canadian Navy are developing fleet decarbonisation plans that will be regularly updated to support a net-zero emissions National Safety and Security fleet. These plans are expected in 2023/24, and will consider availability, affordability, and operational feasibility.
  • Operation LENTUS: Provides support to provincial and territorial authorities to respond quickly and effectively to natural disasters in Canada.
  • 1990-2010: 8 operations, averaging 1 operation biannually.
  • 2011-2021: 33 operations, averaging 3 operations annually.
  • 2022: 5 operations.


Other Operations

  • Operation RENAISSANCE provides support to international humanitarian and disaster response operations.
  • Climate change impacts military training as more frequent and severe natural disasters often coincide with training schedules, and CAF response draws personnel and resources away from training exercises.

National Defence Funding

  • The increase in domestic operations in support of climate disasters has resulted in increased pressure on National Defence’s operating budget.
  • Deployments contribute to higher carbon emissions, which can drive up the cost for deployments due to costs required for carbon offset.

NATO Climate Change and Security Centre of Excellence

  • The establishment of a Climate Change and Security Centre of Excellence is an ongoing initiative led jointly by Global Affairs Canada and National Defence.

Page details

Date modified: