WASHINGTON — Teledyne Technologies’ $8.2 billion acquisition of FLIR Systems, finalized May 14, sets it up to become increasingly competitive in the world of unmanned and sensing capabilities, the latter’s vice president and general manager of unmanned systems and integrated solutions told Defense News in a May 18 interview.
The Teledyne-FLIR merger makes it “the only company that has the breadth and depth of unmanned systems across its portfolio,” Roger Wells said. “FLIR was very strong and continues to be very strong in the unmanned airborne systems and in the unmanned ground systems, building on our acquisition of Prox Dynamics and Aeryon Labs and then, on the ground, Endeavor Robotics.”
Teledyne brings an “extremely strong, very sophisticated set of capabilities, underwater systems as well as surface vehicles,” he added. “Together we have the opportunity to not only put more advanced technology on our platforms, but also integrate in driving interoperability across all of these platforms to really create unique ways of solving very complex operational problems.”
“We have the capabilities to go from deep space to deep seas,” he noted, “and that’s kind of cool having that breadth and that amount of capability across this diverse market set.”
While FLIR will be fully incorporated into the digital imaging segment with Teledyne, it will get to keep its name, going by Teledyne FLIR.
“We want to build on the strength of Teledyne, but we also want to acknowledge the strength of FLIR.Aand those two brands, those two technology sets together really, really sets us apart in the market,” Wells said.
He added that Teledyne doesn’t plan to spin off any of FLIR’s businesses or close down its facilities.
FLIR, as part of Teledyne, will continue to capitalize on its successful contracts. It is supplying the tiny Black Hornet, a palm-sized unmanned aircraft system, which was chosen to become the U.S. Army’s Soldier Borne Sensor, providing reconnaissance capabilities at the individual soldier level. The company recently won an additional $14.5 million contract to provide Black Hornet to the Army. Black Hornet became a FLIR product when it purchased its developer, Norwegian company Prox Dynamics, in 2016 for $134 million.
FLIR was also chosen to produce the Common Robotic System-Heavy for the U.S. Army and reached full-rate production in November 2020. It is also delivering the Man Transportable Robotic System, a medium-sized robot to provide standoff capability to identify and neutralize explosive hazards, to the service as well.
Additionally, the company is providing advanced sensors for the Army’s medium robotic combat vehicle prototyping effort as part of a Textron and Howe & Howe team.
FLIR is contributing technology, particularly thermal imaging and artificial intelligence capabilities, to the Integrated Visual Augmentation System, a pair of goggles worn by soldiers providing intelligence during operations. FLIR also provides countless imaging and detection sensors on a wide variety of platforms throughout the U.S. military and to more than 50 countries around the globe. The company expects its technology in that department to become even better under Teledyne, according to Wells.
“Teledyne is a technology company, and they really work hard to make sure that they’ve got the right technology that is designed to fit the mission, the solution and the needs of the customer. That philosophy and that culture really aligns well with FLIR, as does the technology base that we are pursuing,” Wells said.
“We’ve got really strong technology that goes everywhere from sonar to [chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high-yield explosives detection] and everything in between, especially the really core pieces of technology that both Teledyne and FLIR have strengthened including visible thermal X-ray, electronic [light detection and ranging] technology that’s designed to support a wide variety of applications.”
Now that FLIR has become part of Teledyne, it hopes to have even more leverage to pursue critical parts of major modernization opportunities on the horizon like next-generation combat vehicle development the Army is pursuing.
“The combined entity gives us the opportunity to expand our solution set and go pursue larger opportunities,” Wells said.
Together, Teledyne and FLIR will be able to “combine true, multi-modal sensing capabilities, driving increasing levels of intelligence and embedding [artificial intelligence] on the edge, tying these capabilities together in interoperable frameworks, through common software … to really reduce the cognitive load and burden on the operator, drive better information that enables more timely and mission-oriented decision making and embed these next-generation capabilities in these evolving programs.”
Jen Judson is the land warfare reporter for Defense News. She has covered defense in the Washington area for 10 years. She was previously a reporter at Politico and Inside Defense. She won the National Press Club's best analytical reporting award in 2014 and was named the Defense Media Awards' best young defense journalist in 2018.