Joint Capabilities

Canadian Armed Forces Cyber Activities

  • Cyber capabilities and expertise are critical to defending Canada against 21st century threats.
  • The Canadian Armed Forces are continually working to strengthen mission-critical systems, integrate cyber activities into broader military operations, and develop new capabilities.
  • For example, we are investing $400 million into initiatives which improve cyber defence and IT infrastructure management.
  • These initiatives will help enhance cyber threat identification, response capabilities, and protection of our critical infrastructure and equipment.
  • National Defence is also working closely with other departments, allied militaries, and our industry partners to identify evolving threats, increase interoperability, and share best practices.
  • Together, these efforts will help ensure that Canada’s military remains at the cutting edge of the ever-evolving cyber domain.

If pressed on cyber vulnerabilities of military equipment:

  • National Defence is incorporating cyber assessments as an integral part of new procurement projects to identify and defend against any potential cyber vulnerabilities from the outset.
  • We also conduct risk assessments on existing equipment to protect against new threats as they arise.

Key Facts

  • The Canadian Armed Forces have created new cyber roles to attract talent and improve expertise.
    • Canadian Armed Forces members in cyber trades: 66
    • New cyber trade positions to be filled: 31
  • The Communications Security Establishment Act provides the Communications Security Establishment with a mandate to conduct cyber operations and to assist the Canadian Armed Forces in conducting active cyber operations.


Canadian Armed Forces Cyber Capital Program

  • Two key projects fall under the CAF Cyber Capital Program:
    • Cyber Defence – Decision Analysis and Response Project: will improve cyber threat identification and incident response capabilities. This will provide the CAF with the ability to continuously collect, retain, and analyze cyber threat information on the Command Network. It will also allow for the detection and characterization of suspicious activity, and provide the ability to contain and eradicate a threat.
    • Network Command and Control Integrated Situational Awareness Capability Project: will improve the monitoring of the informational technology (IT) services and provide the commanders responsible for IT services with enhanced information critical for decision making regarding our IT infrastructure.
  • Investments supporting these projects and related activities exceed $400 million and will allow the CAF to secure, operate, defend, and sustain its cyber networks.

The Canadian Armed Forces Cyber Operator

  • The new cyber operator occupation includes both Reserve and Regular Force members who conduct defensive cyber operations.
  • The CAF cyber operator will also:
    • collect and analyze data from the CAF computer network systems in support of cyber defence operations;
    • monitor networks for vulnerabilities, potential intrusions, and abnormalities;
    • conduct forensic investigations of cyber incidents; and
    • maintain specialized cyber toolsets.
  • The Cyber Reserve Force provides full-time capability through part-time service by assigning Primary Reserve units and formations new roles, with the goal of enabling strategic decision-making, supporting operational objectives, and delivering tactical effects.

Active Cyber Operations

  • Strong, Secure, Engaged committed the CAF to assuming a more assertive posture in the cyber domain by hardening our defences and by conducting active cyber operations against potential adversaries as part of government-authorized missions.
  • Active cyber operations will provide the government a strategic tool to disrupt, degrade, and deny foreign and adversarial threats, and keep Canadians safe. National Defence works closely with the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) to develop active cyber capabilities.
  • The Communications Security Establishment Act allows CSE to conduct defensive cyber operations to protect Canadian systems and information from foreign threats, as well as conduct active cyber operations related to Canada’s security, defence and international affairs. CSE has always helped to protect our forces wherever they are deployed, and under the 2019 CSE Act, can now provide operational and technical support for CAF active cyber operations.

Version 5; 2020-03-09 – Source: CoW, QP Notes on Canadian Armed Forces Cyber Activities

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Space Activities

  • Space capabilities are critical to Canada’s national security, sovereignty, and economy.
  • For example, the Canadian Armed Forces requires the use of satellites to support all of its operations, including for navigation, communications, and intelligence.
  • In 2019, Canada launched three RADARSAT Constellation Mission satellites, which enhance the Canadian Armed Forces’ ability to monitor Canada’s maritime and northern approaches.
  • We are also working on new space technologies to enhance the defence and protection of our satellite capabilities, as well as satellite communications that support global coverage.
  • We will continue to work with allies and partners, other government departments, and industry to enhance these vital capabilities and ensure the resilience of our space systems.

Key Facts

  • Key National Defence space projects:
    • Polar Epsilon 2: Two ground stations that will download and exploit data from the RADARSAT Constellation Mission;
    • Surveillance of Space 2 Project: Will replace and enhance Canada’s current space surveillance contribution to the US Space Surveillance Network;
    • Mercury Global and Protected Military Satellite Communications Projects: Continued cooperation with allies to enhance satellite communication capabilities around the world;
    • Tactical Narrowband Satellite Communications: Very-High Frequency communications that will support military operations in latitudes up to 65 °N; and
    • Medium Earth Orbit Search and Rescue: Equipment hosted on US GPS satellites that will support Search and Rescue operations by improving beacon location accuracy and detection time.


  • The Canadian Space Agency is the Government of Canada lead for civil space policies and programs.
  • National Defence, the largest Government of Canada user of space, is the lead for defence space policies and programs. National Defence maintains a collaborative relationship with other government departments to optimize whole-of-government space capability outcomes.
  • National Defence’s space program, with the Royal Canadian Air Force as the functional authority, is organized around four main lines of operation:
    • surveillance of space;
    • surveillance from space (Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance);
    • positioning, navigation, and timing (e.g. Global Positioning System); and
    • satellite communications.
  • Other space-related Research and Development projects within National Defence’s space program include:
    • resilient Non-Global Positioning System (GPS) Based Positioning, Navigation and Timing;
    • intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance from space and future space mission-enabling technology development (30 projects); and
    • space situational awareness.
  • Since 2014, National Defence has closely collaborated with Five Eyes partners (and, more recently, with France and Germany) under the Combined Space Operation initiative, which enables and enhances cooperation on military and defence space activities.
    • Examples include improving space situational awareness and information sharing, advancing shared operational and strategic objectives, developing common strategic messaging, and ensuring policy and legal cohesiveness.
  • National Defence’s Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security program has launched three space-related ‘Challenges’ linked to the identification and characterization of space objects, defending and protecting satellites from natural and artificial threats, and tracking and de-orbiting space debris. National Defence will look to leverage work done in these areas for its own space capabilities.

Version 5; 2020-02-25 - Source: CoW, QP Notes on Canadian Armed Forces Space Activities

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