Owning the night

Owning the night

U.S. military commanders have long based mission plans on the expectation they would own the night. Their troops would operate equipped with night vision goggles while the enemy would flail in the darkness.

The Pentagon has held tight export restrictions for infrared detection equipment to maintain that edge. However, the U.S. defense industry is challenging those restrictions, claiming they only put American defense companies at a disadvantage since international competitors produce similar infrared products.

Bloomberg is reporting that Raytheon Co., DRS Technologies Inc. and Flir Systems Inc are leading the charge to not add infrared detectors to the U.S. Munitions List. Raytheon, DRS and Flir are three of the largest U.S. manufacturers of infrared equipment.

The State Department oversees the U.S. Munitions List, a list of articles, technology and services deemed defense– or space-related by the federal government. If the infrared technology is added to the list, the companies who produce it would need a specific Defense Department license to export it.

Pentagon officials, to include former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, have pushed to ease foreign military sales restrictions for U.S. defense companies to keep the industry afloat as the Defense Department plans to cut defense spending over the next decade.

As a result, the U.S. defense industry saw arms transfer agreements triple in 2011 compared to 2010. A Congressional Research Service report found the value of the U.S. defense industry’s arms transfer agreements rose from $21.4 billion to $66.3 billion from 2010 to 2011. A large chunk — $56.3 billion — of 2011’s agreements came from developing nations, namely Saudi Arabia.

If infrared was only used in night vision goggles or missile guidance systems, this would be an open and shut case. But there are plenty of non-military uses for infrared technology such as civilian security cameras as Bloomberg’s report pointed out. Putting the technology on the U.S. Munitions List, though, would make it hard for companies to even sell their infrared equipment for civilian uses.

While Flir, Raytheon and DRS Technologies have plenty of military contracts, they do produce infrared equipment outside the military. As defense spending comes down, these companies will need to depend more on the civilian contracts as the military contracts drop.

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Yet again, we spend as much money on defense as the rest of the world combined, but what we are really supposed to believe is that these defense contractors want access to overseas “markets”? Yeah right. They want to outsource production overseas. Typical smoke screen from multi-national corporations with no real affilitation to the US, but plenty of money to influence US policies.

Totally wrong AGAIN. A division of the company that I currently work for selss well over half of the defense equipment that it produces to overseas customers but it builds ALL of it in the US. Point of fact, some of the foreign customers (like India) demand to be able to produce part of the items in country and do maintenance in their own shops. The ITAR laws require the company to get approval and thus far, none of the equipment is built or even maintained overseas.
My previous company (one of the “big 6″) had smaller international sales but similar experience.

Face facts Dfens, the products made by the US aerospace companies are battle tested and highly prized in much of the world which is why US market share has increased. Russia, France, China etc are happy to sell to just abut anyone but the gold standard for most of the market is US made.

The mouthpiece has spoken. Again.

Put your money where your mouth is. Give some real statistics of how much Defense and Aerospace work is being outsourced overseas. Give specific examples of how the companies are selling overseas in order to outsource. I’ll even give you some easy places to start with products that have sold well oveRseas. Thousands of F-16s have been sold overseas. Patriot missile batteries. Aegis Radar Systems. SM2 missiles. HMMWV, F-15, F/A-18, M-1 Tank. ARC-210 Radio, MIDS (Link-16).

Is there any evidence for this assertion?

Not really, us weapons have a reputation for being overpriced underperforming and fragile. The losing side in 80% of the wars in the last 50 years has been armed with an m16 is very telling. Most of the sales are simply to buy the sort of influence in washington that gets you vip flights when something goes wrong and marines dying instead of your own men.

Romney has spoken warmly many times on how he has boosted profitability through outsourcing its obviously a subject he is passionate about. And really its a no brainer for the defense industries. Domestic sales are going down, productivity isnt improving the only way to maintain profitability is to cut costs which means more efficient labour and supply chains offshore. As soon as export restrictions are lifted why in the world whould you boyher to assemble units in America
and accept lower margins and more returns.

You think that the booming international trade in F-16s, Patriot missile batteries. Aegis Radar Systems. SM2 missiles. HMMWV, F-15, F/A-18, M-1 Tank. ARC-210 Radio, MIDS (Link-16) is to curry favor with the US Government? India is buying fighters from the West (not US) because of the vast numbers of MIGS that they have lost to crashes. Bottom Line, the MIG was not a good airplane. Why are they buying US made C17’s? Because the Russian equivalent is not a good airplane and there is no Airbus equivalent thus far. Bottom line is that the F16, SM2, etc are good weapons. If you don’t believe it then believe what you wish but the marketplace disagrees.

Sorry killer, the M-16 weapon system is what the SAS uses and has used for decades. And they can use whatever they want. Like wise CAG and Dev Grp. I served in the infantry from 96 — 00 and the ONLY time I had problems with either an M-16 or M-4 was bad mag (ie non colt) or left my ammo in the sun.

And the purpose of the US defence industry is to equip the US military and those who want to buy american. It is not to provide jobs to foreigners. God knows we will have half of them working here illegally in a few more years.

Actually the SAS largely use the Diemaco C8 — which is in fact Canadian, albeit a variant of the US AR-15.

60% of aerospace work is outsourced. You should read this blog sometime. It’s very informative.

What America do you live in? Do you live in the America that has a strong industrial base, or one that has outsourced its industry overseas?

Back to the subject– I’d be happy to let any other country buy what we have. Provided there’s a hidden kill switch that disables the equipment whenever we want.

The point of the defense industry is to deliver weaponry. Their creation of US jobs is incidental and irrelevant. I only hear tears over globalization of arms manufacturing when American countries do work elsewhere. There’s not a peep when foreign weapons are made here. I’ll believe that people are really principled when there are picketers at the FN, H&K, and Beretta plants clamoring for these companies to take their good manufacturing jobs back where they came from.

People make that claim all of the time but you cant look at an SAS AR and say those are C8 features. All SAS photos I have seen and books I have read, and from SF guys that have worked and trained with them, all say they are standard Army M4s and M4A1s as our SF guys use. SOPMOD Upgrades and all. The survivng members of the famous Bravo two zero patrol all talked about their grenade launchers being M203s attached to a no-frills M16A2.

You make a random blanket statement without any proven examples or the political/leadership side explanation. In Vietnam when the M16 was “the worst” its ever been, the kill ratio was overwelmingly in our favor. It isnt the weapons that ultimately win wars, its the strategy. Vietnam is a perfect example of that which pretty much makes your statement void.

An off-topic side note: Not that I dont think we should always be looking for improvements in small arms, it is widely known that regular infantry units experiencing problems with M16s/M4s, is from a bad magazine or from a lack of lubrication. A gun will run dirty and wet all day long but it will not run dirty and dry. Thats straight from Larry Vickers of Delta. He dropped a non-milspec AR from a helicopter, shot it with a shotgun, burried in dirt and some other things and it still fired fairly ACCURATELY . Point being, while your statement cites the M16/M4 specifically, for every infantry man that hates it, there is one that loves it. Thats not even considering the SOF guys who never use the cheap mags, use more lube, and replace them more often long before they become over used and broken unlike regular infantry units.

I thought your were getting somewhere but then I noticed it was just a percentage with no examples or facts cited. My favorite percentage to cite when describing something is for some reason, 90%. I see yours is 60.

Also a big factor that yield to the m16 was the caliber: less recoil, lower cost of manufacturing (since it’s only 5.56mm) and of course, more ammo can fin in the same charger, and lower cost of ammo.

While I am a big fan of “why not using 14.5mm everywhere”, less weight and lower recoil are an advantage, I have never been to a battlefield but I really doubt that stance is always ideal and lighter frame and lower recoil is a plus; having a lighter machinegun also mean faster targeting and all the above also get more and more important as the strain get on the party, and in very dynamic situation. They are definitely people who could handle 7.62 as well as 5.56, but for the masses 5.56mm win. Some old studies got to the conclusion that the “ideal” caliber is 6mm.

Again, m-16 was all about mass production.

AFAIK most H&K firearms are still made in Germany. There is a sig-sauer plant though (sigarms), and that was a requirement from federal contracts that their huge order be made in america. It’s not that your mass produced handgun are unusable, but a S&W MP really look like a second grade and half compared to a H&K pistol, this thing digest anything including empty rounds and jamming is not quite common.

>The point of the defense industry is to deliver weaponry.

That should be the case but thanks to wall-street, these companies are operating worldwide –though significantly less than any other since in defence– and like any service company, they find a way to get the job done but always give priority to ROI on their behalf, which sometimes include shortcut. Example: f-22 vest.

If you read the article, the company didn’t take a shortcut. The Oxygen system choices were made by the Air Force for cost reasons as opposed to safety.

Your claim is that defense manufacturers want to outsource overseas. Implicit in both your claim and in the context of the article is that the manufacturing being referred to is not for trivial items — after all, who cares where forks & spoons, etc. come from? — but rather important technology, like the IR/nightvision or missile guidance equipment mentioned in the article. So therefore your claim implies that you know of specific examples referring to high tech being foreign-outsourced. And that’s what I was asking for: Those specific examples. What do you know about Raytheon’s, DRS Tech’s, or FLIR’s plan, for example to outsource production overseas? Are you referring to other defense technology contractors? What are your sources of information that lead you to your conclusion?

This forum appears to be for people interested in discussing military topics (which makes me glad to have discovered it finally) and the outsourcing of military equipment production is a very interesting topic to discuss. Claims such as yours should get specific, not more general, when being discussed, especially when someone asks for clarification or substantiation. So please, what’s your evidence/


Welcome to the boards!

Thank you. :D

One of the uses for IR devices would be in Autos. Cadillac had one in 2005 and now Mercades has one. This work the same as night vision. Why not use americam made parts for this use instead of China?

Nobody is arguing that the m16 isnt good enough for the losign side. Vietnam, Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq prove that.

Its just is that it has become enblematic of losing wars. Something foriegn purchasers will take into account when choosing a rifle.

Wow, warms my heart to see industry schills so happy to talk to themselves. After all, are there any more responsible businesses in America today than defense contractors? Just ask them, they’ll be happy to tell you how responsible they are.

And who would be so idiot to associate a single weapon with victory of failure? All that you write prove that it’s based on irrational factor, that is, you don’t like it.

German 88mm was EPIC. It’s just that they didn’t had gyroscopic stabilization on their tanks.

This is still a non-response. Regardless of your opinion about other commenters here, you still have made a claim and still have not provided any pieces of evidence to back it up. What examples do you have of manufacturers wanting to foreign-outsource production of significant military technology?

The easy way to demonstrate that your claim was not an empty one is to provide those examples. Without support, it is not possible to consider a claim as having any substance.

I admit to being disappointed that US auto manufacturers do not even have IR/nightvision as an option for most of their product lines. While not cheap, my opinion is that the safety margins such devices would add would over time easily prove their worth. Yet, you either have to go 3rd party, or you have to buy from a high-end, non US manufacturer like Mercedes-Benz. Most of us don’t have the cash to buy a Benz.

This is a perfect example of a consumer benefit from a military technology. I would LOVE to have some sort of IR/nightvision system available as an option in whatever my next car will be.

Many foreign made cameras and movie cams have a sensor that responds well to infrared when an internal filter is removed.

Night vision goggles use more than just infrared detection technology. At their heart is the photomultiplier tube which was actually pioneered by American astronomers and the technology was adopted by the US military.

Nicely done, elmondohummus. Welcome aboard.

If these companies don’t play ball,lock-em up. May-be legislation with those crooks on capital hill. Can you say “Treason”.

While I mostly agree, you’re missing a couple of important points:

1. The viability of the defense industry is a valid national security concern. Since it is a marketplace with only one domestic customer — the US government — the companies that constitute the US defense industry are especially vulnerable to downturns in US defense spending, e.g., the 1990’s “peace dividend” and the coming Defense Sequestration. The logical place for defense businesses to go to diversify their customer base is to allied foreign governments.

2. When defense manufacturers produce dual-use technologies, they should not be penalized by their status as a supplier to the US Government and denied access to foreign markets (defense and non-defense) when similar technologies are also available through foreign competitors.

3. It is to the advantage of the US for reliable US allies (e.g., the Commonwealth nations, NATO allies), to modernize their equipment to improve their interoperablility with US forces in coalition warfare. Night vision gear arguably falls into this category. There may be some crown jewels here that need to be protected, but it should be a question of how widely to share, not whether.

4. When Defense companies expand their customer base to overseas customers, it helps spread the costs for technology development so that foreign customers contribute to underwriting the costs of US weapons development and sustainment of the industrial base.

There are Chinese agents all over this country stealing what ever they can get their hands on and sending it back to china , and then our bleeding hearts in Washington overlook many of the cases in which Chinese agents are involved in industrial espionage and theft of national assets as well as their constant probing of our INTERNET infrastructure.These countries like China and India won’t buy products unless they are allowed to set up an assembly line in their country . This is very short sided on the part of our industries to do business with them, once they start making products in their country they no longer need us. The EU and USA should get together and put an end to this type of transaction, at least make them work for the products ( reverse engineering ) don’t hand them a blue print !

Dfens you rock! You’re the greatest ever!

Yeah, you’re the greatest ever. Just thought I’d stop by here to post that. Way to go, Dfens!

Which was an RCA product, then bought out by Photonis.

And if you don’t care what shady factory makes your PMTs…

An IR device is active, and will have greater range than a light amplification device.

It would be cool if cars had radar, but more EM interference on the roads? I’ll pass.

There are more dead bodies near an AK than an M-16.

The AK is emblematic of being dead. It doesn’t stop anyone from using them.


And if you typed in english or (engrish) in your case you’d know what your typing???

So, are we winning the war in Afghanistan??

Joseph Goebbels would be so proud!

Steve: Anyone who holds up a banner saying, “Mission Accomplished” in Afghanistan is an outright prevaricator. There is no “endgame for Afghanistan”. We are just trying to get to a point where we can declare “Victory” and skeedaddle before out “Allies” pull the plug. The Taliban and the local warlords/drug dealers will own the country by the time we get the last piece of equipment out.

Sock voter too, it appears. That’s petty. And disappointing.

Thank you.

And this reminds me of something I read once. It was just a blog — long taken down — by an Israeli Defense Force soldier. Just a standard grunt, basically. But anyway, he had a thread that went into the pros and cons of the various automatic rifles available, and he was rather favorable towards the M-16. This in spite of the fact that he also had access to the Israeli Galil, which is what, a once– or twice-removed knockoff of the AK?

Here in the states, we’ve always heard a steady stream of negativity about the Colt firearm. And some of it is very authoritative; I’m struck by Mark Bowden’s remarks in Blackhawk Down about how the US Army Rangers were irritated at the 5.56 round’s performance. Active duty soldiers’ opinions about a weapon carry great weight with me, and that point stuck with me since reading the book.

But in contrast, I’ve read others actually say positive things about the M-16 family. That lowly conscripted soldier’s blog being one of those sources.

This is just one of those weird things that I unfortunately cannot get any real perspective on because I’m just not a serviceman. But regardless, the M-16 has its independent, non-financially interested advocates. Which sounds weird to anyone in the States who grew up reading and hearing bad stories about the rifle, but it’s true. Some folks like it and are satisfied with it.

We can’t leave there soon enough.

What’s stopping them from moving over seas? This is still a free country, and there is not law saying the U.S. Military can only buy equipment with a Made in U.S.A. sticker on it. They want to ease the export restrictions so they can stay here, still make a profit, and sell to the government for less.

Cars have killed more than both weapons combined. Maybe we should be issuing grunts cars?


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