During the last ten years, the impact of infrared and laser devices on surveillance and weapon systems has rapidly increased. Compared to the technology used in the first generation of devices and systems, today's technology has reached a higher level of maturity, allowing such advanced infrared and laser devices to be integrated in a variety of military applications. In Germany, the definition of infrared and laser sensors has changed in the last 10 years, and is almost used synonymously with the complete integration of sensor hardware and sophisticated signal and image processing instead of just considering 'pure' device technologies. This new understanding shows the challenge for future applications and defines the basic methodology for planning the research efforts to improve the use of infrared and laser devices in military systems. This determines the basic elements for future research and development support by the German government: (1) Next generation of infrared detectors (quantum well and superlattices), (2) Thermal imagers, (3) Windows for IR and radar sensors, (4) Multifunction laser sensors, (5) Image processing and pattern recognition, (6) Demonstrators for sensors.