Government of Canada announces contract award to the University of Waterloo for research and development in support of Arctic surveillance

News release

April 12, 2018 – Ottawa, Ont. – National Defence/Canadian Armed Forces

As outlined in Strong, Secure, Engaged, Canada’s defence policy, the Department of National Defence (DND) commits to focusing on defence research and development to produce innovative solutions to surveillance challenges in Canada’s North, particularly in priority areas of Arctic joint intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

In ongoing support of this commitment DND, through Public Services and Procurement Canada, has awarded a contract to the Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo to study new quantum technology to contribute to improving remote sensing methods in the Arctic. This $2.7 million contract is being awarded under the 2016 Innovation Call for Proposals for the All Domain Situational Awareness (ADSA) Science & Technology (S&T) program.

The Arctic presents unique challenges for a variety of remote sensing methods including radar. Space weather such as geomagnetic storms, solar radiation storms and solar flares interfere with radar operation and prevent the effective identification of objects. A new sensing technique – quantum illumination – will allow radar operators to cut through heavy background noise and isolate objects, including stealth aircraft, with unparalleled accuracy.  Practical quantum illumination requires on-demand and rapid emission of photons – single particles of light – in entangled (highly correlated) pairs. This project supports the development of these photon pairs, enabling this technology to move from the lab to the field.

Surveillance solutions support the Government of Canada’s ability to exercise sovereignty in the North, and provide a greater awareness of safety and security issues, as well as transportation and commercial activity in Canada’s Arctic. In addition, solutions achieved under the ADSA Program may contribute to joint efforts between Canada and the United States to renew the North Warning System and modernize elements of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).

Through an investment of close to $133 million through to 2020, the ADSA S&T program coordinates and funds innovative research and analysis to support the development of options for enhanced domain awareness of air, maritime surface and sub-surface approaches to Canada, in particular those in the Arctic.


“Radar is our eye in the sky, especially in the Arctic, which presents unique challenges for a variety of remote sensing methods. Quantum technology is one of the latest innovations in this area and we are proud to partner with the Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo toward the further development of this technology in support of the defence of Canada and Canadians.”

Defence Minister Harjit S. Sajjan

“Our government is committed to providing the Canadian Armed Forces with the equipment they need to do their jobs. We are proud to work with the University of Waterloo to leverage home-grown research that will help Canada monitor the challenging arctic environment.”

The Honourable Carla Qualtrough
Minister of Public Services and Procurement

Quick facts

  • The ADSA Program aims to leverage innovative science & technology expertise from other government departments, academia, industry and allies, to identify, assess and validate technologies in support of air and maritime surveillance, particularly in the North.

  • The North Warning System is a chain of unmanned radar stations in Canada’s Arctic that provide aerospace surveillance of North America’s northern approaches.

  • National Defence’s science and technology organization Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) is the national leader in defence and security S&T. It provides the defence S&T community, the Canadian Armed Forces and other government departments, as well as the public safety and security communities, with the knowledge and technology advantage needed to defend and protect Canada’s interests at home and abroad. 

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