Defence and aerospace research company Forecast International says an estimated US$8.4 billion will be spent on 28 major land- and sea-based electro-optical (EO) systems and programs over the next 10 years.
In its “The Market for Land & Sea-Based Electro-Optical Systems” report it says up to 915 404 EO units will be produced in the next decade.
“The land- and sea-based EO systems market will continue to be largely driven by the procurement needs of very active military forces,” says report author Andrew Dardine.
“The simple, pressing need for the all-important troop-level systems such as night vision goggles and thermal viewing systems is likely to dominate the production and procurement picture for the next few years,” he adds.
The top-five market leaders among land- and sea-based EO system providers in this analysis are Raytheon, ITT, Northrop Grumman, Thales, and Kollmorgen.
“These companies will constitute some of the biggest movers in the production of night vision, thermal imaging, simulation and naval sensor systems for many years running,” Dardine says.
While the production picture will be dominated by the prolific output of night vision goggles and thermal viewing systems, the value of sensors for installation on land- and sea-based vehicles will only grow in importance.
“The next 10 years will be marked by steady production of Kollmorgen`s EO fire control directors and periscopes, especially of the non-hull-penetrating variety, for some of the most important naval applications in the world,” he adds.
“Still, a major part of this market will be dominated by those systems meant specifically for use by individual soldiers. These are the systems that have rightly been identified as veritable lifesavers on the battlefield.
“Quite simply, the modern soldier cannot fight as effectively, especially at night, without them.
Among top producers of thermal viewing systems, Thales has taken a strong lead. Already widely distributed among the fighting forces of over 40 nations, the company`s SOPHIE multi-application binocular/thermal imager will likely remain the object of strong interest well into the next decade.
“Meanwhile, in the U.S., the demand for the PAS-13 Thermal Weapon Sight (TWS) has grown to such an extent that three major defence contractors are now in the business of producing them. BAE Systems, Raytheon, and DRS Technologies have all been awarded multiyear contracts to produce their versions of the system. Annual production of this one system will run as high as 40 000 units in the next few years to meet the unstoppable demand.
“ITT is expected to dominate the market for night vision goggles, especially with its PVS-14 system, and now, to a growing extent, its Enhanced Night Vision Goggle (ENVG). In July 2008, the company announced that it had begun deliveries of a new ENVG, known as ENVG-Overlay (ENVG-O), that combines image intensification with infrared, or thermal imaging, capabilities, allowing soldiers to detect targets at longer ranges,” Dardine says.
As for the PVS-14, recent U.S. Army orders under a multibillion-dollar omnibus contract will ensure steady production over the next several years. Nearly 100,000 units will need to be made in 2009 alone to meet the wartime demand for these essential systems. The U.S. Navy and Coast Guard in 2007 awarded ITT US$37 million for a submersible version.