We propose a new radiometric unit of measure we call the ‘swux’ to unambiguously characterize scene illumination in the SWIR spectral band between 0.8μm-1.8μm, where most of the ever-increasing numbers of deployed SWIR cameras (based on standard InGaAs focal plane arrays) are sensitive. Both military and surveillance applications in the SWIR currently suffer from a lack of a standardized SWIR radiometric unit of measure that can be used to definitively compare or predict SWIR camera performance with respect to SNR and range metrics. We propose a unit comparable to the photometric illuminance lux unit; see Ref. . The lack of a SWIR radiometric unit becomes even more critical if one uses lux levels to describe SWIR sensor performance at twilight or even low light condition, since in clear, no-moon conditions in rural areas, the naturally-occurring SWIR radiation from nightglow produces a much higher irradiance than visible starlight. Thus, even well-intentioned efforts to characterize a test site’s ambient illumination levels in the SWIR band may fail based on photometric instruments that only measure visible light. A study of this by one of the authors in Ref.  showed that the correspondence between lux values and total SWIR irradiance in typical illumination conditions can vary by more than two orders of magnitude, depending on the spectrum of the ambient background. In analogy to the photometric lux definition, we propose the SWIR irradiance equivalent ‘swux’ level, derived by integration over the scene SWIR spectral irradiance weighted by a spectral sensitivity function S(λ), a SWIR analog of the V(λ) photopic response function.