MIL-STD Testing

MIL-STD Testing
ATEC Solutions
MIL-STD Testing
Walking into a military compound like marine corps base Camp Pendleton in San Diego, north of ATEC’s corporate headquarters, few civilians imagine what thorough testing each piece of technology they encounter undergoes. Jeeps humming along in the distance are lightning-proof after undergoing indirect lightning testing. Inside a laboratory, walls tested by sound level meters offer refuge from noise pollution. Military testing standards pervade every part of military life; even the ground below a marching unit holds tested machinery, the piping beneath the troops’ feet carefully measured by flow meters.

What is a MIL-STD?

In the military, testing is crucial to the safety and efficiency of operations. Manufacturing is regimented like any other faction of military life, and engineers navigate a labyrinth of testing requirements for their products to emerge from the bunkers of R&D ready to operate under fire. Electromagnetic interference, or EMI, for example, could pierce a weak point on an M1-Abrams tank if untested for its susceptibility to rogue electromagnetic emissions. Countless other pieces of military equipment would fail in the line of duty, too, if it were not for the safeguards of military manufacturing: MIL-STDs.

MIL-STDs, or military standards, are requirements approved by the U.S. Department of Defense that engineers must conform to when developing and testing military technology. Standardization encourages defense contractors who supply government goods to craft safe and efficient products, and many times commercial manufacturers ensure their products undergo EMC testing as well. A smartphone which can withstand the blistering desert heats of Afghanistan is considered to be well-qualified to serve civilian needs.

Types of MIL-STD Testing

To meet a certain military standard, engineers need to acquire specific equipment to achieve compliance. Advanced Test Equipment Rentals (ATEC) is an ISO/IEC 17025 accredited test instrument rental service and calibration lab. Our industry expertise in military standards spans over 35 years.

Take a look at our overview of common military standards and the equipment necessary to meet them below, and don’t hesitate to call +1 (800) 404-2832 for questions on completing a test.

EMC Testing

To the defense industry, EMC testing is a safeguard against malfunctioning gear, lawsuits and electromagnetic assaults. EMC testing determines how devices react when exposed to electromagnetic interference or whether or not the device itself produces EMI, informing engineers on what adjustments the product needs before field use. The standard which governs electromagnetic immunity and emissions testing for military devices is called MIL-STD461G and is composed of numerous sub-requirements.
  • MIL-STD-461G CE101 & CE102
Conducted Emissions 
CE101 and CE102 testing requirements ensure the product under test does not emit undue amounts of electromagnetic energy when in contact with potentially conductive systems, specifically audio and radio frequency currents.
  • MIL-STD-461G RS103 & RS105
Radiated Susceptibility
This portion of MIL-STD-461G tests the immunity of the equipment under test to electromagnetic radiation. RS103 is focused on the susceptibility of the device in question to electric fields it may encounter, while RS105 specifically relates to electromagnetic pulse resistance, including nuclear, non-nuclear and high-altitude nuclear pulses.
  • MIL-STD-461G CS115, CS116, CS117
Conducted Susceptibility
CS115, CS116 and CS117 regulate a product’s immunity to electromagnetic interference from conductive sources like cabling. Military instruments need to be able to withstand current or voltage variations like damped sinusoidal transients or lightning induced transients without losing functionality.
  • MIL-STD-461 CS118
ESD (Electrostatic Discharge)
Tests the ability of a device to withstand personnel-borne electrostatic discharge, which can interfere with the performance of an instrument. Products which fulfill CS118 requirements generate a contact discharge output voltage of 2 kV to 8 kV and an air discharge output voltage of 2 kV to 15 kV.

Test Solutions  

Component Testing

The defense industry relies on sophisticated components like semiconductors and microcircuits for everything from desktop computers to apache helicopters.


Semiconductors, partially conductive materials that are both insulators and conductors, are utilized in the circuit boards of the vast majority of modern technology. MIL-STD-750 provides standards for their environmental, physical and electrical testing.

Microcircuit Resistance

The testing of microcircuits, including monolithic, multichip, film and hybrid microcircuits as well as microcircuit arrays, is essential to maintaining military technology. MIL-STD-883 requires PIND (Particle Impact Noise Detection) systems for completion of this test.

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Power Supplies & Loads

Every industry needs power, and our military is no exception, being one of the most powerful and vast industrial complexes in the world. The following standards address the power quality for one of the military’s most important sectors.

MIL-STD-1275, 1399, 704
Power Quality for Vehicles, Ships & Aircraft
MIL-STD-1275, 1399 and 704 discuss appropriate testing for the power quality of land, sea and air transportation respectively. MIL-STD-1275 focuses on the operating voltage limits and transient voltage characteristics of 28-volt DC input power in ground vehicles, defining standard voltage compatibility. MIL-STD-1399 standardizes the interface required for shipboard systems, including electrical power and alternating current. The last of the three power quality standards, MIL-STD-704, regulates aircraft exclusively, outlining the standard for compatibility between the aircraft and its electric systems, external power and airborne utilization equipment.

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Environmental Testing

Soldiers in harsh environments rely on their equipment to operate at full functionality through salt fog, sand, pyroshock, gunfire, freezing rain, and a host of other extreme conditions. Environmental testing is paramount in assuring that military gear withstands both moments of crisis and years of field use.

Environmental Engineering Considerations
Engineers test their products according to MIL-STD-810 by enhancing the resistance of the device in question to temperature, humidity, vibration and acoustic noise among other conditions via laboratory test methods.

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Aerospace Testing (RTCA-DO-160)

RTCA-DO-160 is a set of aircraft testing standards separate from MIL-STDs but essential to the testing of airborne equipment for both military and commercial purposes. Designed to regulate everything from helicopters to jumbo jets, RTCA-DO-160 standards include the following: sections 16 & 17, focusing on power fluctuations; sections 18 to 22, which concern immunity to audio and radio frequencies as well as lightning; and section 25, which details electrostatic discharge testing.

Related Manufacturers

Leading manufacturers of military test equipment include:


Relevant Associations

  • EMC Society
  • National Defense
  • Military Microwave Digest
  • AUVSI (Assoc. for Unmanned Vehicle Systems Intl.)

For Further Reading

MIL-STD Testing Equipment