Rafael, Lockheed, Thales, the Russians and the Chinese. How many of them can match Rafael today ? Probably only Lockheed.
Advanced Infra red sensor expertise lies with Northrop Grumman, and even with Raytheon and probably even Boeing. The reason why Lockheed enjoys success is because they have had business success based on a very competent product line (Despite of the fact that they had to share the ATP spoils even after being considered the better acquisition system compared to the NG/Rafael deal). The point with this is and has been for close to a decade, to push cost down, and drive capability from existing systems and lockheed has been able to do this successfully due to volume both in this and now in the IRST domain. Companies like Rafael can push technology faster since their base from an acquisition stand-point is smaller. A Lockheed, has to de-risk the technology and ensure extremely competitive prices for an acquisition program that may go into a decade if not more and therefore, they have to choose relatively low-risk solutions, while a rafael can push the boundaries more since the acquisition cycles are most likely smaller. Same thing happens in other niche markets, particularly air to air missiles where the US OEM's are finding it tough to get a program-of-record in motion because the overall projected program cost is between 12-15 Billion dollar given the sheer acquisition volume. Thats an easy target for expenditure cut say in a 5 year cycle. Europeans on the other hand have a smaller acquisition amount and the overall cost isn't as large from a program stand-point. Interesting dynamics at play, when you have very very large acquisition cycles. A result of this phenomena is that you get on top of cutting edge technology and have a huge price advantage because you have built up capacity (Such as AESA radars both using the standard Gallium Arsenide and Gallium Nitride) and can push the technology down into niche products (UAV radars for examples), but then the downside is that if you choose to embrace a new technology, you have to wait for the industrial capacity to build up that would enable affordable massive acquisition.To the frustration of other OEM's here, Lockheed has and will continue to enjoy a very larger percentage of the Marketshare both on current legacy upgrades (Sniper XR, and IRST-21) and on future product lines (F-35 EOTS, EOTS+ etc)
The Aim-9x is a good example of this. Originally the seeker was developed for the ASRAAM, and the USN and USAF wanted the same seeker with a new custom motor. Acquisition program would have been unaffordable so they compromised on the new seeker with the existing motor. You were however, able to buy huge volumes and ultimately you would get the new motor in the block III along with perhaps improvements in the seeker beyond block IV.