Infrared Export Limits Pentagon Wants Opposed by Industry

August 29, 2012

U.S. companies that make infrared detection technology used in night-vision devices and weapons sights are fighting a Pentagon effort to impose the government’s most stringent export rules on their products.

Raytheon Co. (RTN), DRS Technologies Inc. and Flir Systems Inc. (FLIR) are pressing the Pentagon not to add the infrared detectors to the U.S. Munitions List. Doing so would make official the government’s current restrictive treatment of the technology.

U.S. companies risk being shut out of a global market of about $2.6 billion by 2017 for commercial uses in the automotive, surveillance and security industries at a time when U.S. military purchases are waning, according to technology analyst Jeff Perkins.

“Such a regulation will give a serious leg up to the foreign competition, from Europe to Korea, Japan and China,” Perkins, president of the U.S. unit of Lyon, France-based Yole Developpement, said in an e-mail. “To hinder the ability of U.S. factories to compete will only lead to moving all of that development offshore.”

While infrared imaging is associated with military equipment such as night-vision goggles, it also is used in collision-avoidance cameras for automobiles, commercial security cameras and thermography that can detect heat leaks in homes.

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