United States Military Specifications and 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.

Below is some information and resource links that we have assembled at ES Components to help our customers quickly locate these specifications, and their related documents, such asdefense handbooks and defense specifications.

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.

Official definitions are provided by DoD 4120.24-M, , Defense Standardization Program (DSP) Policies and Procedures, March 2000, OUSD (Acquisition, Technology and Logistics):