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The Benefits of COTS Connectors for Military Use

Considering the harsh environments in which military and defense applications operate, the connectors used in these applications must adhere to strict quality and performance standards. 

Some applications mandate the use of connectors on the Qualified Products List (QPL) that can be granted the mil-spec designation. Mandated by the U.S. Department of Defense, the QPL identifies products that have been tested and proven to follow required specifications before procurement.

While MS connectors may be initially spec’d into an application or drawing as they’re considered stringently tested and 100% qualified for military use, some applications offer the flexibility of approving commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) connectors on the print as an alternative.

When COTS connectors are an option for military applications, there’s incentive to make the switch. 

COTS Connectors Reduce Product Lifecycle Costs


In a recent article, experts at McKinsey discuss the likely slowdown for defense spending in the near future and raised a question: How can defense companies prioritize their affordability efforts over the next five to seven years to remain competitive against their peers?

With defense budgets top-of-mind, using COTS connectors in the place of mil-spec connectors can save manufacturers product lifecycle costs.

MS connectors come at a significant cost as it is very expensive for a manufacturer to be added to the QPL, and these costs inevitably trickle down to the end customer. Strict qualification processes, extended testing cycles and rigorous compliance needs also add to this price point. 

While tested to endure the harshest conditions — as is the case with Amerline’s AEC® connector line — COTS connectors give you the reliable environmental resistance your product needs without these added expenses related to QPL designation.

As a point of reference, the AEC 26482 commercial series meets the EIA-364-28 (MIL-DTL-26482J 3.6.21 Test condition number III) testing requirements for vibration and ASTM B 117 for salt spray — two environmental variables that are of particular concern in the military and defense sector. Further adding to their durability, the AEC 26482 connectors also pass a thermal shock test per EIA-364-32 (MIL-DTL-26482J 3.6.12) and a high temperature test per MIL-DTL-26482J

It’s also worth noting that MS connectors are often built in smaller quantities, which further adds to their price point. Produced in larger volumes, COTS connectors once again offer a source of cost savings.

COTS Connectors Accelerate Product Development


In a Boston Consulting Group article, a group of researchers cited delays in getting new products into service as the biggest issue across the aerospace and defense sector. 

While the strict requirements around mil-spec connectors have led to longer lead times in the past, today’s material shortages and limited freight space prompted even more concern over product delays.

From a supply chain standpoint, COTS connectors open the door to a wider network of commercial suppliers. Alongside an accelerated production and approval process for COTS connectors, a larger pool of suppliers lends itself to greater product availability. This gives businesses more flexibility to shop providers that not only meet their connector needs, but can do so in a timeframe that meets or exceeds their product schedule.

At Amerline, for instance, we offer expedited delivery options for all of our AEC commercial connectors as well as inventory management services that ensure you have parts when you need them, without sitting on a ton of product.

Consider Our AEC Connectors for Your Military Applications


Interchangeable  with MS-designated QPL connectors, our AEC circular connectors are manufactured for severe environments, power demands and size constraints. While you’ll get the quality military applications require, you’ll enjoy fewer costs and faster lead times that support your product strategy.

Have the flexibility to make the switch to COTS connectors? We’ll send you a sample AEC connector of your choice to test. Once you verify the connector meets your requirements, you can add it to your drawing and realize cost- and time-saving benefits.

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