MIL-Specs for Microwaves

New for January 2022: we've added MIL-DTL-39012, an RF connector spec.

On this page we are compiling a list of appropriate MIL-specifications for your military microwave designs. See something that is missing? Drop us a line! Anyone who wants to write a "review" of any of these documents, please help us out. For now we are quoting what the Defense Supply Center Columbus says about each document.

All of these military documents can be downloaded on the US Government web site QuickSearch

EMI and E3

These words of wisdom came from Katie. Thanks!

Two specs I encounter frequently in my line of work are MIL-STD-461F and MIL-STD-464A (version B in currently in the works). I work for the Navy in test and evaluation, and we test to these standards quite frequently. Basically, if a system satisfies both of these standards, it will not be affected by the electromagnetic environment on a ship (or other platform, depending on what part of the standards you use) or make the electromagnetic environment worse.

The first, 461F, is titled "Requirements for the Control of Electromagnetic Interference Characteristics of Subsystems and Equipment." It deals with electromagnetic susceptibility and emissions, both radiated and conducted. The purpose statement of the document reads:

"This standard establishes interface and associated verification requirements for the control of the electromagnetic interference (EMI) emission and susceptibility characteristics of electronic, electrical, and electromechanical equipment and subsystems designed or procured for use by activities and agencies of the Department of Defense (DoD). Such equipment and subsystems may be used independently or as an integral part of other subsystems or systems. This standard is best suited for items that have the following features: electronic enclosures that are no larger than an equipment rack, electrical interconnections that are discrete wiring harnesses between enclosures, and electrical power input derived from prime power sources. This standard should not be directly applied to items such as modules located inside electronic enclosures or entire platforms. The principles in this standard may be useful as a basis for developing suitable requirements for those applications. Data item requirements are also included."

The second, 464A, is titled "Electromagnetic Environmental Effects Requirements for Systems." I mostly use it for electromagnetic vulnerability test guidance. The purpose statement for this one reads:

"This standard establishes electromagnetic environmental effects (E3) interface
requirements and verification criteria for airborne, sea, space, and ground systems, including associated ordnance."

Components for hybrids and circuit boards

MIL-PRF-55681, Capacitor, Chip, Multiple Layer, Fixed, Ceramic Dielectric, Established Reliability and Non-Established Reliability, General Specification

"This specification covers the general requirements for non-established reliability (non-ER) and established reliability (ER), ceramic dielectric, multiple layer, chip capacitors. ER capacitors covered by this specification have failure rate levels (FRL) ranging from 1.0 percent to 0.001 percent per 1,000 hours. These FRLs are established at a 90-percent confidence level and maintained at a 10-percent producer's risk and are based on life tests performed at maximum rated voltage at maximum rated temperature. An acceleration factor of 8:1 has been used to relate life test data obtained at 200 percent of rated voltage at maximum rated temperature, to rated voltage at rated temperature."

MIL-PRF-55365, Capacitor, Fixed, Electrolytic (Tantalum), Chip, Nonestablished Reliability, Established Reliability, General Specification

"This specification covers the general requirements for nonestablished reliability (non-ER) and established reliability (ER), tantalum dielectric, fixed chip capacitors, primarily intended for use in thick and thin film hybrid circuits or surface mount applications for filter, bypass, coupling, and other applications where the alternating current (ac) component is small compared to the direct current (dc), rated voltage and where supplemental moisture protection is available. The established reliability capacitors have reliability ratings established on the basis of life tests performed at specified voltage at +85°C for failure rate levels (FRL) ranging from:

  • 1.0 percent per 1,000 hours to 0.001 percent per 1,000 hours in accordance with MIL-STD-690. These FRL's are established at a 60-percent confidence level and are maintained at a 10- percent producer's risk (exponential distribution).
  • 0.1 percent per 1,000 hours to 0.0001 percent per 1,000 hours at 90-percent confidence level (Weibull distribution)."


MIL-C-83446B: Coils, Chip, Fixed or Variable, General Specification

"This specification covers the general requirements for fixed or variable chip coils primarily intended for incorporation into hybrid microelectronic circuits. Procurement of chip coils of a specific design will require additional data in the form of specification sheets, giving detailed electrical and mechanical requirements, tolerances, and applicable additions and exceptions to the general requirements and tests specified herein."

MIL-PRF-55342, Performance Specification, Resistors, Fixed, Film, Chip, Nonestablished Reliability, Established Reliability, Space Level, General Specification

"This specification covers the general requirements for nonestablished reliability (non-ER), established reliability (ER), and space level, fixed, film, chip resistors primarily intended for incorporation into surface mount applications. These resistors have a high degree of stability with respect to time under normal conditions. ER resistors covered by this specification have life failure rates (FR) ranging from 1 percent to 0.001 percent per 1,000 hours. These FRs are established at 60 percent confidence on the basis of life tests. Table I provides a summary of performance characteristics for these resistors."


MIL-PRF-55310 currently at rev E, governs crystal oscillators.

From the scope section of the document “This specification covers the general requirements for quartz crystal oscillators used in electronic equipment.”

Thanks to Nat!

Hybrid specifications

MIL-PRF-38534, Hybrid Microcircuits, General Specification

"This specification establishes the general performance requirements for hybrid microcircuits, Multi-Chip Modules (MCM) and similar devices and the verification requirements for insuring that these devices meet the applicable performance requirements. Verification is accomplished through the use of one of two quality programs (Appendix A). The main body of this specification describes the performance requirements and the requirements for obtaining a Qualified Manufacturers List (QML) listing. The appendices of this specification are intended for guidance to aid a manufacturer in developing their verification program. Detail requirements, specific characteristics, and other provisions which are sensitive to the particular intended use shall be specified in the applicable device acquisition specification."

Test methods

MIL-STD-883, Test Method Standard, Microcircuits

"This standard establishes uniform methods, controls, and procedures for testing microelectronic devices suitable for use within Military and Aerospace electronic systems including basic environmental tests to determine resistance to deleterious effects of natural elements and conditions surrounding military and space operations; mechanical and electrical tests; workmanship and training procedures; and such other controls and constraints as have been deemed necessary to ensure a uniform level of quality and reliability suitable to the intended applications of those devices. For the purpose of this standard, the term "devices" includes such items as monolithic, multichip, film and hybrid microcircuits, microcircuit arrays, and the elements from which the circuits and arrays are formed. This standard is intended to apply only to microelectronic devices."

MIL-STD-202, Test Method Standard, Electronic and Electrical Component Parts

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

MIL-HDBK-2164, Environimental Stress Screeing for Electronic Equipment

"This handbook provides guidelines for Environmental Stress Screening (ESS) of electronic equipment, including environmental operation, actions takes upon detection of defects, and screening documentation. These guidelines provide for a uniform ESS process that may be utilized for effectively disclosing manufacturing defects in electronic equipment caused by poor workmanship and faulty or marginal parts. It will also identify design problems if the design is inherently fragile or if qualification and reliability growth tests were too benign or not accomplished. The most common stimuli used in ESS are temperature cycling and random vibration. A viable ESS program must be dynamic; the screening program must be actively managed, and tailored to the particular characteristics of the equipment being screened. It should be noted that there are no universal screens applicable to all equipment."

Electro-static discharge control:

MIL-STD-1686 , MIL-HDBK-263

Marking: MIL-STD 129, MIL-STD-130

Waveguide parts

MIL-DTL-85, Waveguides, Rigid, Rectangular General Specification, Rectangular

"This specification covers the performance requirements for seamless or fabricated rigid waveguides with rectangular inside configurations. Waveguides covered by this specification are intended for use as transmission lines in military service radio and electronic equipment. For Naval applications, magnesium waveguides are for aeronautical use only. The waveguides herein specified must function in and withstand for prolonged periods worldwide military unique environments. These waveguides are military unique because the technology was pioneered by the military, and these devices are required for compatibility of form, fit and function with the many devices currently fielded. These devices are used because expensive changes to application systems would be required, if other than these standard military components were used. This specification is also subject to terms of international standardization agreement."

MIL-DTL-287, Waveguide Assemblies, Flexible, Twistable and Nontwistable, General Specification

"This specification covers the general requirements for twistable and nontwistable, flexible waveguide assemblies. Twistable and nontwistable, flexible waveguide assemblies are intended for operation in the microwave region of the spectrum, to facilitate complex installations, provide for misalignments, and permit relative motion between connected components. They have satisfactory electrical as well as mechanical characteristics to supplement rigid wave-guide assemblies."

MIL-DTL-3922, Flanges, Waveguide, General Purpose, General Specification

"This specification covers the general requirements for general purpose waveguide flanges that are used to couple mechanically and electrically two sections of waveguides or waveguide parts."

MIL-DTL-23351, Waveguides, Single Ridge and Double Ridge, General Specification

"This specification covers the requirements for rigid waveguides with single ridge or double ridge inside configurations. Waveguides covered by this specification are intended for use as transmission lines in military services radio and electronic equipment."

MIL-DTL-23641 coax/waveguide adaptors

Coax cable specifications

This from Nathan (May 2012): MIL-C-17 has been superseded by MIL-DTL-17 it’s basically the same thing, but people searching MIL-C-17 will get a spec that’s 20 years out of date. Thanks!

MIL-DTL-17, Cables, Radio Frequency, Flexible and Semirigid, General Specification

"This specification covers flexible and semirigid cables with solid and semisolid dielectric cores, with single, dual, and twin inner conductors. Cables covered by this specification are primarily intended for use as transmission lines to conduct energy in a simple power transfer continuously or intermittently. In general, these cables are designed for low-loss, stable operation from the relatively low frequencies through the higher frequencies in the microwave and radar regions of the frequency spectrum. Cables may also be used as circuit elements, delay lines, or impedance matching devices."

RF connectors

Don't bother looking for connector torque specs in MIL standards.   They refer you to supplier data sheets. The IEEE has a spec on precision connectors that include torque settings, here is a Microwaves101 page that introduces it.

MIL-PFF-39012 (rev F as of January 2022), Performance Specification Connectors, Coaxial, Radio Freequency, General Specification For

"This specification covers the general requirements and tests for radio frequency connectors used with flexible RF cables and certain other types of coaxial transmission lines."

MIL-STD-348, Interfaces, Radio Frequency Connector, Coaxial, Triaxial and Twinaxial.

"The purpose of this standard is to standardize on Radio Frequency connector interfaces and to ensure the inclusion of essential design requirements."

This spec covers the interface dimensions of many of the popular RF connectors, including the new push-on SMP series.


MIL-DTL-16878, Wire, Electrical, Insulated, General Specification for

"This specification covers unshielded wire for hookup and lead wiring of electrical and electronic components and equipment so that minimum size and weight are consistent with service requirements. The temperature rating of wire included in this specification ranges to a maximum of 260 degrees Celsius (°C), with potential rating from 250 to 5000 volts root mean square (Vrms). The single conductor wire covered in this specification is intended for use in lead wire and internal wiring of electrical and electronic equipment and switchboards."


Author : Unknown Editor