17 Aug 2011
Increasing incidence of pirate attacks prompts orders for electro-optic systems to protect coastal waters.
Elbit Systems, the Israeli defense contractor, has won $20 million worth of orders from customers in Asia to help protect coastal waters from attacks by pirates.
What Elbit describes as “maritime terror” has become an increasingly common phenomenon, notably off of the coast of Somalia. As a direct result, says Adi Dar, the general manager of Elbit’s Electro-optics division (Elop), says that the company is seeing increased demand for its maritime observation systems.
The latest orders, for dozens of systems to be used by patrol aircraft, vessels and observation towers, will be supplied over the next three years. Elop will deliver various products from its “CoMPASS” family. These systems feature a number of electro-optic elements, including thermal imaging capability, dual-wavelength laser rangefinders and target illuminators, and TV cameras.
The orders also include the lightweight “Micro CoMPASS” version of the technology, which has been designed for use in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) applications. It features a miniaturized forward-looking infrared (FLIR) system, a continuous-zoom CCD camera and laser target illumination.
Dar adds that more orders should follow, saying: “We expect that this success will be followed by additional orders, further strengthening Elop's position as a world leading observation systems supplier for air, ground and naval applications.” In May, Elop had announced a $20 million order for CoMPASS payloads from a single Asian customer.
Despite those successes, the Elop unit has witnessed a general slowdown in demand recently. In its second quarter financial results, Haifa-headquartered Elbit registered steady growth in overall sales, which were up 15% year-on-year to $691.6 million. The Elop division’s revenues dropped 16% year-on-year to $72.5 million, although they were up sequentially from the first-quarter figure of $64.8 million.
Elbit's largest single customer is the US, where future levels of defense spending are under pressure and expected to decline in 2012. However, Elbit's CEO Joseph Ackmerman pointed out that the company has successfully broadened its geographical diversity, with growing defense budgets in the Asia-Pacific and Latin American regions helping to compensate for declines elsewhere - as evidenced by the recent Elop sales to Asian customers.