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Nova Scotia Aerospace and Defence

Home to 35% of Canada’s top defence companies

Nova Scotia attracts globally recognized companies working in naval defence, shipbuilding, sonar and sensing, in-service support, cyber security and training and simulation.


  • Nova Scotia has the highest concentration of defence spending in Canada
  • Nova Scotia is home to the East Coast Navy and the largest air force base in eastern Canada
  • Canada's next generation of combat vessels are being built in Nova Scotia - thanks to a contract estimated at up to $62 billion over a thirty year period

Learn more about Nova Scotia's Aerospace and Defence sector with our infographic and feature article

Nova Scotia's high performing clusters


Nova Scotia's marine industry, rooted in 17th-century shipbuilding, now leads in fields such as: 

  • Acoustic hull design
  • System electronics
  • Sonar technologies
  • Computer-aided manufacturing

Irving's Halifax Shipyard Assembly and Ultra Hall facility is the largest single building for constructing ships in North America - and it's also where Canada’s next generation of combat vessels are being built. Learn more about Irving’s progress.

Sonar & sensing

Nova Scotia specializes in the area of acoustics, sensors, and instrumentation. This sub-sector develops and deploys surveillance equipment that collects and processes data for a variety of marine-related applications. Learn more about Nova Scotia's advantages in Ocean Technology.

In-service support (ISS)

Given the high level of Department of National Defence (DND) presence and activity in Nova Scotia, the province has established a world-class capability for In-Service Support (ISS). These capabilities include engineering, platform and mission system modernization, life-cycle maintenance, repair, and overhaul within the aerospace, naval, and land vehicle sectors. Three of the four largest Canadian ISS prime contractors have established operations in Nova Scotia. ISS organizations in Nova Scotia include global players such as IMP Aerospace & Defence, Babcock Canada, Lockheed Martin, L-3 Communications, General Dynamics and SNC Lavalin.

Cyber security

Nova Scotia's vibrant IT sector has a talented labour force supported by respected academic institutions. University programs like the computer science degree specializing in cyber security offered by Dalhousie University set Nova Scotia apart in Atlantic Canada. These qualities have attracted a growing cluster of companies such as BeyondTrust and Track Group. Learn more about Nova Scotia's advantages in ICT.

Training & simulation

Nova Scotia hosts world-leading training and simulation companies like Bluedrop Training, Modest Tree and CAE. The province is well equipped to support integrated training solutions including:

  • Training needs analysis
  • Instructional design
  • Content development
  • Integrated learning environments 
  • Training simulation products

Learn more about Nova Scotia's advantages in Digital Media.

Research & development

Nova Scotia has substantial capacity in research and development (R&D). Much of this capacity comes from a cluster of multinational companies that conduct high-value R&D work for the Department of National Defence (DND). Nova Scotia also has a number of institutions that provide invaluable support to the aerospace and defence sector, including:

Defence R&D Canada (DRDC): This government department offers world-leading expertise in a range of areas including:

  • Sonar and sensing
  • Antisubmarine warfare
  • Mine and torpedo defence
  • Modelling and simulation of ship and combat systems

Learn more about Defence Research and Development Canada Atlantic.

Bedford Institute of Oceanography (BIO): This modern oceanographic research facility, located on the Bedford Basin, is Canada's largest centre for ocean research. Learn more about BIO.

Dalhousie University: Boeing is one of the major investors in R&D at Halifax's Dalhousie University, supporting projects in the fields of advanced materials development, mobile graphics, and text analytics. Learn more about Boeing's strategic investment.

COVE: Centre for Ocean Ventures & Entrepreneurship (COVE) is a collaborative facility for applied innovation in the ocean sector. The primary role of COVE is to support ocean technology commercialization. This collaborative space will be home to local and global ocean technology businesses, start-ups, researchers, marine-based and service businesses that support the ocean technology sector.

The facility will include a mix of short and long-term workspace to support members locally and those visiting from other locations. They will receive access to a range of services and shared infrastructure. There will also be a full mix of programming that can be accessed on site and on a virtual basis. Members from across Nova Scotia will have access to services via regional node arrangements.

Strategic location

Nova Scotia is an ideal location for companies with high levels of exports, thanks to its:

  • strategic location between Europe and North America 
  • infrastructure connectivity
  • logistics facilities 
  • competitive costs

Export markets

Nova Scotia's top five export markets in Aerospace and Defence are:

  1. United States
  2. France
  3. United Kingdom
  4. China 
  5. Ireland

Priority markets

According to Global Affairs Canada, there are export opportunities for the sector in the following markets:

  • Aerospace: Brazil, Brunei, Chile, China, European Union, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Russia, Singapore, Thailand, United States, Ukraine
  • Defence and Security: Australia, European Union, India, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, United States


Nova Scotia Business Inc. has a team of experts, with sector and market know-how, dedicated to helping Nova Scotia companies grow in markets around the world. Export and trade programs help your company take full advantage of the province's capabilities in shipping and logistics.

    You'll be in good company

    Innovators from around the globe have included Nova Scotia as an integral part of their global value chain. Companies include:

    For an inclusive listing of aerospace and defence-related companies in the region, please visit ACADA’s Capabilities Guide.