Newcomers to defense biz will face ITAR headache
Listening to a presentation today on dealing with International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) pitfalls for small defense companies, I started thinking this is only going to become more problematic as commercial companies, finding their own markets tanking, try to break into the defense business. The defense industry is one of the few bright spots in this economy and already designers of commercial technology are looking for ways to attract military system integrators to their products.
Today's speaker, Russell VanDegrift, senior consultant and director at MK technology, warned the audience at the Components for Military & Space Electronics conference in San Diego that if they even think their product may be used for military systems they need to clear it with the State Department.
Unfortunately, I think commercial developers are quite naïve on this issue and we might see a more than a few get hit with costly ITAR violations.
VanDegrift also said that any products that may be sold or seen by a foreign government then used for military may come under scrutiny as well -- especially if the other country is China.
I remember last year at our Military & Aerospace Electronics Forum during the ITAR panel discussion engineers and managers kept peppering the panelists with "what if" scenarios -- when in the middle of one exchange someone stood up and said "don't take any chances, just cover your rear end, you don't want to get that letter from the State Department."
Not much has changed since then. The ITAR headache remains for many defense suppliers -- seasoned or not. It is also the only topic our conference advisory board voted to repeat for our 2009 conference.
Watch your step.