Paris exhibitors credit military market for stability

By Joseph Normandin
Posted by John McHale

One of the main questions exhibitors were asked at the Paris Air Show this past week was how were they doing in the midst of the economic downturn. Most credited their military systems designs with keeping them afloat.

"Military wins saved our business," Francois Hervieux, director of sales for Air Data in Quebec told me. Commercial wins have dried up due the economic downturn, but military business has been steady.

Nandu Balsaver of Laversab, a designer of avionics test equipment near Houston said it is not because commercial outfits do not have the money, -- they do. It is that they do not wish to part with it. "They are holding it tight to wait out the storm," he said

The military is the only thing that has been consistent, Balsaver added.

Most of the people I talked to who have designs in both markets said the same thing -- commercial business is drying up while the military is steady but not going gangbusters.

That is unless you are a defense prime, a maker of unmanned systems, or FLIR in Beaverton, Ore. David Strong, the vice president of marketing for FLIR said the company is doing better than ever.

When Defense Secretary Robert Gates recently shifted funding in the DOD 2010 budget request from large platforms such as the F-22 to applications for Special Forces it played right into FLIR's core business, Strong said.

"Practically everything we do targets Special Forces from thermal weapon sights" to electro-optical gimbals on helicopters, Strong said.

The company is sitting quite pretty, having grown nearly 50 percent in the last two years, with their Government division making up more than half of their more than $1 billion in revenue.

Their government business -- which consist of not just military but civil and homeland security applications throughout the world -- is also the fastest growing part of their business, Strong noted.

Strong said he also sees the European market having fast growth potential, hence why they were here at the Paris Air Show.

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The Mil & Aero Bloggers

John Keller is editor-in-chief of Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine, which provides extensive coverage and analysis of enabling electronic and optoelectronic technologies in military, space, and commercial aviation applications. A member of the Military & Aerospace Electronics staff since the magazine's founding in 1989, Mr. Keller took over as chief editor in 1995.

Ernesto Burden is the publisher of PennWell’s Aerospace & Defense Media Group, including Military & Aerospace Electronics, Avionics Intelligence and Avionics Europe.  He’s a father of four, a runner, and an avid digital media enthusiast with a deep background in the intersection of media publishing, digital technology, and social media. He can be reached at and on Twitter @aero_ernesto.

Courtney E. Howard, as executive editor, enjoys writing about all things electronics and avionics in PennWell’s burgeoning Aerospace and Defense Group, which encompasses Military & Aerospace Electronics, Avionics Intelligence, the Avionics Europe conference, and much more. She’s also a self-proclaimed social-media maven, mil-aero nerd, and avid avionics geek. Connect with Courtney at, @coho on Twitter, and on LinkedIn.

Mil & Aero Magazine

December 2013
Volume 24, Issue 12

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