September 20, 2006: According to a new analysis by Forecast International, an estimated $8.1 billion will be spent over the next 10 years on the development and production of key EO systems. “The Market for Land and Sea-Based EO Systems” reports that, through 2015, an estimated 566,586 units will be produced – 339,696 systems from 2006-2010 and 226,890 systems from 2011-2015.

“Many of the leading systems in this analysis are being produced and procured in the highest numbers in their history,” said Andrew Dardine, Forecast International’s EO Systems Analyst and author of the analysis. “The immediate needs of a large number of deployed military forces are likely to shape the direction of this segment of the defense electronics industry for many years to come.”

As in previous years, it is the U.S., whose military forces are deeply engaged in fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, that is driving the incredible demand for key EO systems. “The very nature of this persistent fighting has forced military planners not only to ask for huge supplemental budget increases to pay for the procurement of needed systems today, but also to plan for long-term needs for the systems over the next several years,” said Dardine.

Raytheon and ITT are expected to continue to strengthen their market presence in the years ahead based on the remarkable recent success of two of their systems: respectively, the PAS-13 thermal weapon sight (TWS) and the PVS-14 night vision goggle. Such is the enormous demand for these two systems, and so important is their role in providing security forces with essential capabilities, that the government of Saudi Arabia highlighted them in its recent announcement that it is seeking some $6 billion worth of U.S.-produced defense equipment.
The market for these two systems alone in the U.S. constitutes a major portion of the land and sea-based EO segment in this analysis. Combined, some 455,000 units having a value of $1.5 billion are expected to be produced over the next 10 years. ITT, in late 2005, won a major portion of a sweeping U.S. Army Omnibus procurement contract for production of a variety of night vision devices, especially the PVS-14. The five-year order is valued at $1.4 billion.

The other companies in the top-five ranking of this analysis, Northrop Grumman, Thales, and Australia’s Electro-Optical Systems Holdings Ltd, are also in the position of developing and producing advanced EO systems that are designed to provide unique capabilities for a variety of applications.

Thales was involved in the early development of an emerging, sea-based, long-range infrared search-and-track system called SIRIUS. Primary production of the system was expected to be handed off to DRS Technologies after the award of a $142 million development contract in April 2006. This system is most notable for the fact that it may be one of the first major naval-based EO systems designed and deployed specifically to address the threat of terrorists using small craft to carry out attacks. Already due to be in service with the navies of Canada and the Netherlands, SIRIUS is also of serious interest to Austria, Germany and South Korea.

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