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Military Specifications and Standards

Defense standards evolved from the need to ensure proper performance, maintainability and reparability (ease of MRO), and logistical usefulness of military equipment. The latter two goals (MRO and logistics) favor certain general concepts, such as interchangeability, standardization (of equipment and processes, in general), cataloging, communications, and training (to teach people what is standardized, what is at their discretion, and the details of the standards).


In the United States, military contractors, commercial entities, educational institutions, etc., often purchase products to the requirements set forth by the United State’s Military Test Specifications. These standards are often referred to using acronyms such as, “MIL-STD” Military Standard, “MIL-SPEC” Military Specifications, or (informally) “MilSpecs” Military Specifications. They representa set of very well thought out test specifications and procedures that are designed to achieve the high-quality and high-reliability objectives of the U.S. Department of Defense. Testing to these standards ensures interoperability between products; consistency in electrical, mechanical, and thermal specifications; total cost of ownership; compatibility with logistics systems; and similar defense and commercial related objectives.


However, the proliferation of standards also has some drawbacks. The main one is that they impose what is functionally equivalent to a regulatory burden upon the defense supply chain, both within the military and across its civilian suppliers. In the U.S. during the 1980s and early 1990s, it was argued that the large number of standards, nearly 30,000 by 1990, imposed unnecessary restrictions, increased cost to contractors (and hence the DOD, since the costs in the end pass along to the customer), and impeded the incorporation of the latest technology.


Definition Of Document Types

Although the official definitions differentiate between several types of documents, all of these documents go by the general rubric of “military standard”, including defense specifications, handbooks, and standards. Strictly speaking, these documents serve different purposes. According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), military specifications “describe the physical and/or operational characteristics of a product”, while military standards “detail the processes and materials to be used to make the product.” Military handbooks, on the other hand, are primarily sources of compiled information and/or guidance. The GAO acknowledges, however, that the terms are often used interchangeably.


Acronym Type Definition 
MIL-HDBK Defense Handbook A document that provides standard procedural, technical, engineering, or design information about the materiel, processes, practices, and methods covered by the DSP. MIL-STD-967 covers the content and format for defense handbooks.
MIL-SPEC Defense Specification A document that describes the essential technical requirements for military-unique  material or substantially modified commercial items. MIL-STD-961 covers the content and format for defense specifications.
MIL-STD Defense Standard A document that establishes uniform engineering and technical requirements for military-unique or substantially modified commercial processes, procedures, practices, and methods. There are five types of defense standards: interface standards, design criteria standards, manufacturing process standards, standard practices, and test method standards. MIL-STD-962 covers the content and format for defense standards.
MIL-PRF Performance Specification A performance specification states requirements in terms of the required results with criteria for verifying compliance but without stating the methods for achieving the required results. A performance specification defines the functional requirements for the item, the environment in which it must operate, and interface and interchangeability characteristics.
MIL-DTL Detail Specification A specification that states design requirements, such as materials to be used, how a requirement is to be achieved, or how an item is to be fabricated or constructed. A specification that contains both performance and detail requirements is still considered a detail specification.




MIL-STD-750, Method 2072 – Is no longer in this document, and can now be found in MIL-STD-750-2. The entire test method scheme has changed. MIL-STD-750-2 includes test methods 2001 to 2999.


MIL-STD-750, Method 2072, 2073 and 2074- On page ix, this document contains links to Test Methods 2072, Internal Visual – Transistor, Test Method 2073, Visual Inspection for die (semiconductor diode, as well as Test Method 2074, Internal Visual Inspection (discrete semiconductor diodes)

MIL-STD-202G Test Methods Standard Electronic and Electrical Component Parts This military standard establishes uniform methods for testing electronic and electrical component parts, including basic environmental tests to determine resistance to deleterious effects of natural elements and conditions surrounding military operations, and physical and electrical tests.


MIL-STD-883, Method 2010 – Begins on page 233.


Mil-PRF-19500 Appendix G – Begins on page 128. (Discrete Semiconductor Die / Chip lot Acceptance)


Mil-PRF-38534 Appendix C – Begins on page 35. Element Evaluation begins with paragraph C3 on page 36.





MIL-STD-202 Electronic & Electrical Component Testing Standards

MIL-STD-202 establishes uniform methods for testing electronic and electrical component parts, including basic environmental tests to determine resistance to deleterious effects of natural elements and conditions surrounding military operations, and physical and electrical tests.

For the purpose of this standard, the term “component parts”: includes such items as capacitors, resistors, switches, relays, transformers, inductors, and others. This standard is intended to apply only to small component parts, weighing up to 300 pounds or having a root mean square test voltage up to 50,000 volts unless otherwise specifically invoked.

Test Method 101 Salt atmosphere (corrosion) – This test subjects components to a fine mist of salt solution to determine their ability to withstand corrosion.

Test Method 103 Humidity (steady state) – This test examines the properties of materials used in components as they are influenced by the absorption and diffusion of moisture.

Test Method 104 Immersion – This test determines the effectiveness of the seal of component parts by immersing them in liquid at widely different temperatures.

Test Method 105 Barometric pressure (reduced) – This test is mainly intended to gauge the ability of components and other materials to avoid dielectric withstanding voltage failures caused at reduced barometric pressure.

Test Method 106 Moisture resistance – This test evaluates the ability of materials to resist the negative effects of high humidity and heat found in tropical climates.

Test Method 107 Thermal shock – This test looks at how well components resist exposure to extreme high and low temperatures as well as the shock of alternating exposures to these extremes (such as going from a heated room to Arctic areas).

Test Method 108 Life (at elevated ambient temperature) – This test determines the effects of elevated ambient temperatures on a part while in operation.

Test Method 110 Sand and dust – This test evaluates the ability of equipment to resist the effects of exposure to fine sand.

Test Method 201 Vibration—The purpose of this test is to determine the effects of vibration on component parts within the frequency ranges and magnitudes most likely to be encountered during field service.

Test Method 203 Random drop – This test looks at how random, repeated impact caused by shipping, handling and other field service conditions effect component parts.

Test Method 204 Vibration, high frequency – This test examines how component parts are affected by vibration in the frequency ranges of 10 to 500 hertz (Hz), 10 to 2,000 Hz or 10 to 3,000 Hz, as may be found in aircraft, tanks or missiles.

Test Method 206 Life (rotational) This test looks at the effects of rotation on electronic and electrical parts.

Test Method 212 Acceleration – The purpose of this test is to determine how acceleration stress affects component parts and to verify their ability to operate when exposed to this stress.

Test Method 213 Shock (specified pulse)—This test looks at how component parts perform when subjected to shocks like those resulting from rough handling, transportation and military operations.

Test Method 214 Random vibration—This test determines the ability of component parts to withstand dynamic stress caused by random vibration in various field service settings.

Test Method 215 Resistance to solvents – This test determines whether markings or color coding will remain legible and avoid discoloration when exposed to solvents.

Test Method 301 Dielectric withstanding voltage – This test determines whether a component part can operate safely at its rated voltage and hold up against temporary overpotentials caused by surges, switching, etc.

Test Method 302 Insulation resistance – This test measures the insulating members of a component’s ability to resist an impressed direct voltage.

Test Method 303 DC resistance – This test measures the direct current resistance of resistors, electromagnetic windings of components and conductors.

Test Method 304 Resistance temperature characteristic – This test determines the percentage change in direct current ohmic resistance from the dc ohmic resistance at the reference temperature, per unit temperature difference between the test and reference temperature.

Test Method 311 Life, low level switching – This test determines electrical contact reliability under low-level switching conditions in the environment contacts operate in.

Test Method 313 Intermediate current switching—This test determines the electrical contact reliability of electromechanical relays, switches and other similar items under immediate current switching conditions.

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