Defence Research and Development Canada

Royal Canadian Air Force French Armed Forces Category:Canadian Armed Forces
Defence Research and Development Canada
Recherche et développement pour la défense Canada
Agency overview
FormedApril 1947
Preceding Agency
  • National Research Council of Canada
Typemilitary science and technology research
JurisdictionGovernment of Canada
HeadquartersOttawa, Ontario
Agency executive
  • Isabelle Desmartis[1], Chief Executive Officer and Assistant
    Deputy Minister (Science and Technology)
Parent departmentDepartment of National Defence
Key document

Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC; French: Recherche et développement pour la défense Canada, RDDC), 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 knowledge and technology.

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


After the First World War, national research and development in Canada was organized under the National Research Council (NRC). The NRC was founded in 1925 based on a wartime British recommendation to establish military laboratories in Canada, but by that time the main priorities were developing domestic university and industrial research and civilian projects.[3] Greater interest in military applied research arrived in 1935[4] when Major-General Andrew McNaughton became President of the NRC.;[5] in the period before the Second World War the NRC undertook research in radar, aviation medicine, artillery, aircraft, gas masks, and metallic magnesium production.[6] Chalmers Jack Mackenzie became acting President at the onset of the Second World War when McNaughton assumed an operational command within the Canadian Army,[5] formally succeeding McNaughton in 1944.[7]

Following the fall of France in June 1940, the NRC assumed control of all Canadian scientific research and responsible for applying it toward military applications.[8] Laboratories and facilities were established by the NRC and the Canadian Armed Forces.;[9] biological and chemical warfare laboratories cooperated closely with Allied counterparts.[10]

In 1944, Chalmers Mackenzie and the armed forces began considering the issue of post-war military research, and concluded that a separate military research organization was required.[11] The result was the creation of the Defence Research Board (DRB) within the Department of National Defence (DND) in April 1947, which took over coordinating defence research from the NRC[12] and advising DND on scientific matter.[13] The overall organization of defence research continued to mimic the NRC.[12] The DRB was - as envisioned by proposals in 1945 - an interim solution; creating an organization within DND required minimal political action compared to creating a new government department that would subsume both the NRC and defence research.[14] Omond Solandt was the first Chairman of the DRB.[15] The DRB received seven existing NRC facilities.[15]

The DRB was the last part of DND to adapt to the unification of the Canadian Armed Forces of 1968. DRB began transitioning to the new structure in 1974, and dissolved in 1977. Six of the seven DRB research establishments were transferred to the newly created Defence Research and Development Branch (DRDB) of the Canadian Armed Forces (CF).[16]

In the 1990s, budget cuts and the complexity of greater reliance on cheaper contracting drove a review of the organization of defence research. In 2000, the DRDB was replaced by Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) which was - like the DRB before - a DND agency.[17]

Research Centres

DRDC, Atlantic Research Centre

Located in Halifax, 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 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.

The Centre provides expertise in the following areas:

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, Valcartier Research Centre

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 1 April 2000. VRC 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:

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

DRDC, Ottawa Research Centre

Originally known as the Defence Research Establishment Ottawa (DREO). DRDC Ottawa is located near Shirleys Bay in the west end of Ottawa. DRDC, Ottawa Research Centre develops technologies in support of the following domains:

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 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. The Research Centre provides expertise in the following areas:

Research examples

DRDC, Suffield Research Centre

Located in Alberta, the Suffield Research Centre was originally made up of various Defence Operational Research directorates (DLOR for Land, DMOR for Maritime, DAOR for Air, DStratA for Strategic, etc.). 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.

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.

The centre provides expertise in the following areas:

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.

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:

The Centre also has research capabilities in the following areas:

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.

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


  1. ^ "Chief Executive Officer and Assistant Deputy Minister (Science and Technology)". Defence Research and Development Canada.
  2. ^ "About DRDC". Defence Research and Development Canada.
  3. ^ Turner, p.15
  4. ^ Turner, p.16
  5. ^ a b Turner, p.17
  6. ^ Turner, p.18
  7. ^ Turner, p.30
  8. ^ Turner, p.20
  9. ^ Turner, p.26
  10. ^ Turner, p.29
  11. ^ Turner, p.35
  12. ^ a b Turner, p.37
  13. ^ Turner, p.69
  14. ^ Turner, p.36
  15. ^ a b Turner, p.41
  16. ^ Turner, p.298
  17. ^ Turner, p.2317