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Defence Research and Development Canada
Recherche and développement pour la défense Canada
Agency overview
Formed April 1947
Preceding Agency
  • National Research Council of Canada
Type military science and technology research
Jurisdiction Government of Canada
Headquarters Ottawa, Ontario
Employees 1,400
Agency executive
  • Dr. Marc Fortin[1], Chief Executive Officer and Assistant
    Deputy Minister (Science and Technology)
Parent department Department of National Defence
Key document

Defence Research and Development Canada, also DRDC (Recherche & développement pour la défense Canada, or RDDC in French), is an agency of the Department of National Defence (DND), whose purpose is to provide the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), other government departments, and public safety and national security communities with the knowledge and technology needed to defend and protect Canada’s interests at home and abroad.

DRDC has approximately 1,400 employees across eight research centres within Canada.[2]

S&T Areas of Expertise[3]

  • Command and Control
  • Communications Networks
  • Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance
  • Complex Systems
  • System Autonomy
  • Mobile Systems
  • Weapons Systems
  • Personnel Protection
  • Protection of Assets
  • Human Systems Integration
  • Behavioural Effects

Research Centres

DRDC, Atlantic Research Centre

Located in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, the Research Centre conducts research and development activities related to the maritime defence and security domains, but also to the air and land environments. The Centre provides expertise in the following areas:

  • antisubmarine warfare
  • mine and torpedo defence
  • shipboard command and control
  • naval platform technology
  • emerging materials
  • signature management
  • maritime information and knowledge management
  • virtual platforms and virtual combat systems

The Atlantic centre also operates two materials laboratories in the CFB Halifax and Esquimalt Dockyards, which provide scientific consulting and troubleshooting services to the Canadian Armed Forces (primarily the Royal Canadian Navy) on chemical, metallurgical and engineering problems that affect the operational capability of military vehicles and equipment.


DRDC, Atlantic Research Centre traces its formation to 1944 when it was established as the Defence Research Establishment Atlantic (DREA) by the Royal Canadian Navy. DREA was one of the originating organizations that came together in 1947 to form the Defense Research Board which later became DRDC.

DRDC, Valcartier Research Centre

Conducts research and development activities to support the operational needs of the Canadian Armed Forces in defence and security. The Centre provides expertise in the following areas:

  • Vehicle and Personnel Protection Systems
  • Weapon Systems
  • Command, Control and Intelligence systems
  • Cyber Security
  • Spectral and Geospatial Exploitation
  • Tactical Surveillance and Reconnaissance
  • Electro-Optic Warfare

Located just outside CFB Valcartier, it is the largest of the research centres.


Founded in 1945 as the Canadian Armament Research and Development Establishment (CARDE), it became Defence Research Establishment Valcartier (DREV) in the early 1970s, and finally DRDC Valcartier (RDDC Valcartier in French) on April 1, 2000.

DRDC, Ottawa Research Centre

DRDC, Ottawa Research Centre develops technologies in support of the following domains:

  • Space Systems and Technology
  • Cyber Operations
  • Communication and Signals Warfare
  • ISR Applications
  • Radar Sensing Exploitation
  • Radar Electronic Warfare
  • Radiological Nuclear Defence
  • Navigation Warfare

It was originally known as the Defence Research Establishment Ottawa (DREO). DRDC Ottawa is located near Shirleys Bay in the west end of Ottawa.

DRDC, Toronto Research Centre

The Toronto Research Centre conducts research and development activities to enhance the effectiveness and ensure the health and safety of military personnel in operational environments.

The Research Centre provides expertise in the following areas:

  • aerospace and undersea life support systems
  • human protection and performance in stressful environments
  • individual behaviour and performance
  • military medicine
  • research related to human factors and ergonomics, including simulation and modelling in complex military systems
  • social and cultural factors influencing behaviour
  • team performance and collaborative behaviour

The Centre also houses the Canadian Forces Environmental Medicine Establishment, which supports the operational needs of the Canadian Armed Forces through research, tests and evaluations as well as training in undersea and aerospace environments.

Research examples

  • Decompression Tables (DCIEM Sport Diving Tables) that are now used worldwide and have been adopted by foreign navies, commercial diving companies and civilian organizations to reduce the risk of decompression illness, once commonly called "the bends."[4]
  • Canadian Underwater Mine-Countermeasures Apparatus (CUMA) is a new diver mine-countermeasures (MCM) diving set with a depth capability of 80 metres, as well as being anti-acoustic and anti-magnetic.[5]
  • The STInG (Sustained Tolerance to INcreased G) system, which provides G protection for pilots, superior to any current operational system.
  • Virtual Reality simulator for Helicopter Deck Landing to simulate the dangerous task of landing a helicopter on the moving deck of a ship.
  • Clothe the Soldier project provided human engineering support to the Army's acquisition of over 24 new items of state-of-the-art soldier protective clothing and personal equipment
  • Load Carriage Robot - an instrumented articulated manikin that mimics the movement of the human torso
  • A Cold Exposure Survival Model (CESM) used in Search and Rescue (SAR) Operations
  • A Heat Stress Calculator for Firefighters used throughout Ontario.

DRDC, Suffield Research Centre

The Suffield Research Centre is a Canadian centre of excellence for chemical and biological defence and has research programs in blast, casualty management, and autonomous systems. The centre’ work feeds into the combined national effort to keep Canada and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) safe from the devastating consequences chemical (C), biological (B), radiological (R), nuclear (N), and explosive (E) threats could have on human health, the environment, and major infrastructure. The centre provides expertise in the following areas:

  • C/B detection & forensics;
  • C/B protection technologies and systems;
  • Blast threat mitigation and assessment;
  • Advanced energetics;
  • Medical countermeasures;
  • Modelling and analysis of threats;
  • Equipment evaluation and testing;
  • Casualty management/blast injury research;
  • Autonomous systems operations (ground and air); and,
  • CBRNE Training

DRDC operations in Suffield include two unique national assets: Experimental Proving Ground (EPG) and the Counter Terrorism and Technology Centre (CTTC). The EPG is Canada’s only proving ground of its kind for military research and development. Its immense land space (470 km2), air space, and 105 realty assets (specialized laboratories, trial sites and facilities) make it a research and development resource to advance DRDC/DND’s program. It is also accessible to defence industry partners upon request. CTTC offers realistic training (over 2,200 CAF and First Responders per year) helping them respond safely and effectively to incidents involving CBRNE threats.

DRDC, Centre for Operational Research and Analysis (CORA)

The Centre for Operational Research and Analysis provides scientific rigour to decision support and option analysis to the Department of National Defence, the Canadian Armed Forces, and Canadian security partners. The centre delivers options, recommendations, and potential outcomes to key decision makers by providing timely quantitative and qualitative analysis reports and objective expert advice.


Located in Ottawa, it was originally made up of various Defence Operational Research directorates (DLOR for Land, DMOR for MAritime, DAOR for Air, DStratA for Strategic, etc.).

DRDC, Director General Military Personnel Research and Analysis (DGMPRA)

DGMPRA responds to the research needs of both the Assistant Deputy Minister (Science and Technology) and the Chief of Military Personnel within the Department of National Defence. The Centre conducts strategic and operational research in the areas of:

  • personnel generation
  • personnel and family support
  • operational and organizational dynamics

The Centre also has research capabilities in the following areas:

  • modeling and analysis
  • forecasting
  • surveys, focus groups, and interviews
  • strategic analysis
  • concept development
  • secondary data analysis
  • data mining
  • benchmarking
  • geographic information systems
  • selection test development
  • job analysis

DRDC, Centre for Security Science

Defence Research and Development Canada’s Centre for Security Science operates in partnership with Public Safety Canada. It conducts research and development activities in the field of public safety and security science and technology as well as related testing and assessment activities. The Centre identifies trends in security technology and related threats, and maintains a network of national and international science and technology experts and partners involved in public safety and security.

The Centre also leads the Canadian Safety and Security Program and the Emergency Responder Testing and Evaluation Establishment.

DRDC's History

During the Second World War the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) conducted wartime research for the Department of National Defence and its military arms, the Royal Canadian Navy, the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Canadian Army. When NRC reverted to its peacetime activities following the war, DND sought to continue defence research and created the Defence Research Board (DRB) in April 1947 to coordinate the department's research and development activities.

The unification of the three services into the Canadian Forces (CF) in 1968 saw DRB evolve, becoming the Research and Development Branch of the CF by 1974. The Research and Development Branch was reorganized on April 1, 2000 when it became an agency within DND called Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC).

Defence Research Establishment Pacific (DREP)

This Research Centre was Closed in 1994. It was located in Naden, Esquimalt, a suburb of Victoria, BC, and was originally called the Pacific Naval Laboratory (PNL). DREP was engaged in a variety of research areas. One group did materials research. Materials subgroups included one for Non Destructive Testing of materials including ultrasound, x-ray, and eddy current methods; a composite mechanics subgroup working on interlaminar fracture (delamination) of composite laminated structural materials and bolted joint mechanics research for composite; and a metals fracture subgroup.

Other groups worked on submarine detection, adhesives chemistry, and engine health monitoring.

Civilian achievements

Over the years, researchers at DRDC, sometimes in partnership with the NRC and others, have been responsible for numerous innovations and inventions of practical application in the civilian world. These include the G-suit, motorized wheelchair, the Alouette 1 satellite, Black Brant rocket, improvements to the carbon dioxide laser, flight data recorder, the Ballard fuel cell membrane, and the Bombsniffer (using gas chromatomography and ion mobility spectrometry).

See also


External links

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