Raytheon [RTN] and Finmeccanica’s DRS Technologies April 1 said they have entered a teaming agreement for the Army’s 3rd Generation Improved Forward Looking Infrared program (3rd Gen IFLIR) B-Kit.

“The companies will provide an IFLIR system to provide the military with a significant improvement in reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition,” said Taylor Lawrence, president of Raytheon Missile Systems. “The 3rd Gen IFLIR program is critical to our military forces and necessary to sustain our soldier’s combat advantage.”

The teaming arrangement aims at a specific competition, said Clay Towery, business development manager for Land Warfare Systems at Raytheon. “We expect the Army RFP (Request For Proposals) release for 3rd Generation IFLIR in May.”

The Army has said it expects to award a contract for engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) in the first quarter of calendar year 2016. That would be followed in about 2022 with low-rate initial production. There will be extensive testing. The unit must be qualified on specific platforms and must operate in all conditions, he said.

Towery said he anticipates a lot of interest and competition, as 3rd Gen IFLIR is worth perhaps billions over time.

Raytheon logoIFLIR is the latest technology, developed over about five years using internal research and development funds as well as government funds, he said. Raytheon already has third generation detectors in a few airborne applications that are fielded and qualified.

The 3rd gen IFLIR “improves the range performance of the systems significantly,” Towery said. The new unit will be roughly the same size, weight and power as the 2nd Gen units. The increased range performance requires improving all the optics, and will operate in multiple wavebands compared to the 2nd Gen unit that only has a single waveband.

The agreement follows the two companies’ previous effort on the 2nd Gen FLIR program that saw nearly 20,000 sensors fielded to the Army, Navy and Marines during the last decade. DRS_Technologies_LOGO

“With this effort, Raytheon and DRS will leverage our Horizontal Technology Integration experience and 3rd Gen focal plane array technology,” said Michelle Lohmeier, vice president of Raytheon’s Land Warfare Systems. “We offer a low-risk schedule and program plan to field this technology into land combat platforms.”

The Raytheon-DRS team has delivered 2nd Gen FLIR technology to: M1 Abrams tank Commander’s Independent Thermal Viewer and Gunner’s Primary Sight, Bradley Fighting Vehicle Improved Bradley Acquisition Subsystem and Commander’s Independent Viewer, Long-Range, Advanced Scout Surveillance System, and the Navy’s Phalanx Close-in Weapon System.

“The Army and our team have a strong track record of delivering state-of-the-art next generation FLIR technology on our nation’s premiere ground vehicle combat platforms,” said Sally Wallace, DRS C4ISR Group president. “Our experience integrating a common FLIR across the Army’s combat vehicle platforms is critical to synchronizing the Army’s modernization strategy.”