The United States Military, Navy and other defense forces purchase equipment, machines and supplies costing billions of dollars. To ensure reliability, uniformity and quality all these supplies should be manufactured according to the specifications which are defined by the Military, informally called the Military Specifications, abbreviated as the MilSpec. Other terms which are used interchangeably with the Milspec are MIL-STD ( Military standards), MIL-DTL (Military defense detail specifications) and MIL- PRF (Military performance standards)
The military of different countries have a large number of soldiers, and since ancient times, the equipment used by the soldiers was standardized. For example in ancient Rome,the shields used by the soldiers were standardized. In the last few centuries, the American and French militaries were the first to make standardization of the military equipment using Milspecs a priorities. During the civil war, standardization became more important, so that the different armies could use the same ammunition. During the world war, it became necessary for the allied countries to have military supplies, equipment which was compatible with each other, which furthered increased the focus on standardization using the military specifications.
The military has developed stringent specifications for all the products, components and supplies which it uses, and any manufacturer who wishes to supply to the military has to ensure that the product conforms to the specifications. The specifications will usually mention the material which is used in the product, the exact dimensions, design, manufacturing process and features of the product. After the product is manufactured, it will also be tested to check its quality according to the specifications. For low value products, only a few samples may be tested, for high value products, complete testing is required.
A wide range of products used by the military and defense forces conform to the Milspec. These products range from mechanical components like screws, fasteners, bolts, to electrical and electronic components ranging from cables, wiring, semiconductors. Since the military often uses these products in harsher conditions compared to civilian use, the products are designed to withstand more stringent environmental conditions without failure compared to normal use . Hence the cost of these components is usually higher than similar components used for commercial applications. Many products can use quality Milspec components, but the product may not be Milspec.
While the military already has millions of Milspecs for the products, supplies it uses, when any new product or supply is being considered for use by the defense forces, a new Milspec should be developed. Based on the type of product, the experts in the defense forces, will finalize the Milspec after considering the worst case conditions. The product will then be manufactured by the supplier or vendor and tested to ensure that it conforms to the specification. The initial testing process of the component or supplies is very expensive. Also the standards are more stringent,so in some industries Milspec is regarded as an indication of superior quality. Marketing and sales people use the milspec to promote their product, so that customers are assured of its quality.