Putting It Together - Everything You Need to Know About Military Connector Types

There is always a great burden on the shoulders of military, naval and aerospace personnel. Even in times of definite or relative peace and geopolitical stability across the globe, these servicemembers constantly must remain vigilant of any and all dangers that may be out there - both in the present and on the horizon. This level of constant alertness applies not only to those in active-duty combat, patrol, reconnaissance and medical roles, but also to the millions of technicians, engineers and IT support crews who keep the vehicles, technologies and equipment in perfect working order for soldiers, sailors, pilots and marines.

These personnel, in turn, depend on defense and aerospace product manufacturers providing them with the tools they use every day to ensure that everything operates without a hitch. And it isn't just the most frequently used aspects of satellite, navigational, weapons targeting and surveillance systems that must consistently work at such a high level, but also their underlying components - circuits, wiring, semiconductors, microchips, transmitters, feedthroughs, penetrators and any other parts that facilitate the fast and efficient passage of electricity and signals.

Connectors carry a particularly high significance here, as they make sure that signal or power delivery continues unabated at every junction along its intended path. AMETEK ECP produces a broad variety of military connector types suited for use in countless applications, across all major defense verticals. Through our decades of experience within the defense and military aerospace fields and industry leading skills of our design and manufacturing teams, we can ensure our clients will have the proper connections for smooth operation at all times.

The value of strict adherence to DoD standards

As is the case with so many other aspects of U.S. military operations, equipment features and capabilities must always be in accordance with standards crafted by administrative and scientific personnel within the Department of Defense. The equipment utilized by all armed forces branches under the DoD, from the smallest microelectronic component to the largest naval aircraft carrier, has to adhere to any DoD guidelines that apply to each category of vehicles and equipment, and connectors are no exception to this rule. These specifications (sometimes referred to in catch-all fashion as "MilSpec") are written, cataloged and overseen by those working with the department's Defense Standardization Program.

By establishing this level of uniformity among the tools used by the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and all of their many subsidiary departments and units, a greater level of interoperability can exist, and routine maintenance, repair and operations of vehicles and equipment is much easier to manage. Also, in times of armed conflict, the five branches must operate in close concert with one another in any number of variations. Thus, it's critical that technicians assigned to the Marines, for example, will be ready and able to enact critical repairs for Army units that are working alongside them on a given mission, due to their knowledge of equipment requirements and specifications.

Specs you should know

At AMETEK ECP, the MIL-DTL-83513F standard, which addresses microminiature, rectangular and polarized shell connectors, is followed to the letter during our manufacturing process. Some of its requirements are as follows (though it will likely be worthwhile to read the entire standard):

  • Military connectors should seamlessly interface with any other connectors or related parts that have been made according to the DoD standards, and not cause electrochemical contamination or any extraordinary amount of wear and tear.
  • Solder contacts made for connectors must consist of conductive copper-based alloys and plated with gold.
  • Dissimilar metals, if used together in a connector, should be appropriately fabricated to resist the attritional damage of corrosion.
  • Connectors need to be made with only nonmagnetic metals and materials.

For products used by the Navy, a different standard covers connectors: MIL-C-24321D. Major tenets of this compliance guideline include:

  • Nickel-copper-aluminum alloys must be the primary metal used in the manufacture of connectors for hull inserts, as well as any plugs, nuts, washers, retainer plates and retainer plate assemblies (unless a different applicable DoD item specification would supersede that requirement; the need for stainless steel as a corrosion-resistant factor is one such specification).
  • Pin and socket contacts should be gold-plated.
  • Pressure-proof caps are essential and must be hermetically sealed to prevent the intrusion of hydrostatic pressure.
  • Connectors should have strong insulation resistance - sometimes well over 5,000 megohms - and be capable of withstanding dielectric voltages with no disruptive discharge, arcing, corona, flashover or breakdown.

AMETEK's manufacturing facilities all observe rigid quality control guidelines to ensure that all connectors fabricated comply with the relevant standards described above (or any others that may apply).

Military connector types available from AMETEK ECP

Original equipment manufacturers all over the world know (and trust) AMETEK's reputation as a designer and fabricator of environment-resisting connectors and accessories. This, along with our commitment to quality in all of the other products we sell, is what's enabled us to serve the armed forces in various capacities for decades. The interconnect components AMETEK offers for military-grade applications include:

  • Hermetic rectangular connectors: In order of size from largest to smallest (relatively speaking), these components come in subminiature, rack and panel or micro-miniature formats. They are manufactured using cold-rolled or stainless steel (or both, in some cases) and arranged in a distinctive D shape to help guarantee positive polarization. Contacts are gold-plated, and compression-sealed glass provides the appropriate insulation to meet or exceed DoD standards. Rectangular hermetically sealed connectors serve a wide range of purposes, including telemetry, communication, navigation and other applications in airborne, shipboard or ground support operations
hermetic rectangular connectors

  • Hermetic circular connectors: These hermetic connectors are especially useful for applications in which the operating atmosphere must be tightly controlled to protect electronic systems from the elements - extreme heat or cold, massive underwater or atmospheric air pressure, high levels of potential debris intrusion and so on. Stainless steel is the predominant material, though alloys containing copper and tin are sometimes used as well.
  • Multiple pin headers: For applications where high precision and reliability are especially important, such as airborne and ground-level targeting or navigation systems, these connectors are arguably the most fit to serve. A wide range of metals may be used, including stainless steel, titanium and alloys such as Kovar, Monel, Inconel and Hastelloy (among others).
hermetic connectors
  • Radio frequency connectors: AMETEK's hermetically sealed RF connectors provide strong bonds between components essential to the proper function of military communications and satellite equipment. They are available in sub-miniature, sub-micro and sub-miniature/sub-micro hybrid designs, with maximum frequencies ratings of 26.5, 40 and 65 GHz.
hermetic connectors

 

Navy-grade subsea connectors

In warships, submarines and other vessels that make up any modern naval force, extreme pressure on vessels' hulls and the constant threat of intrusion by the ocean itself has to be accounted for when designing and implementing all portions of the electronic infrastructure that keeps craft up and running at full capacity. Ship commanders and lead engineers need connectors that are capable of withstanding these and other environmental factors while bringing no significant impedance to the systems they power. AMETEK ECP offers several connectors suited to this purpose:

military grade connectors

  • Glass-to-metal sealed bulkheads: Submarines conducting reconnaissance operations far beneath the ocean's surface will benefit considerably from the use of these interconnects. The standard GTMS bulkhead model from AMETEK has been tested in pressures greater than 25,000 pounds per square inch, and our in-house engineers can design custom bulkheads capable of withstanding up to 35,000 psi. Temperature resistance also ranges up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (204 degrees Celsius) in the base model and 500 Fahrenheit (260 Celsius) in customized products.
  • High-temperature/high-pressure electrical bulkheads: These multiple-pin pressure bulkheads are designed with a molded thermoplastic cover that surrounds a GTMS core for an additional safeguard against the elements.
  • Dry- and wet-mate connectors: Whether your connections can take place in a dry environment or need to be made while fully submerged, AMETEK's ELITE models of dry- and wet-mate connectors can serve either purpose without compromising connective integrity - an essential quality in numerous naval operations.
  • GTMS hull penetrators: A number of essential naval submarine functions, such as sonar, microwave communications and ethernet connectivity, cannot operate without the existence of single- or multi-port cables that pass through the vessel's hull and connect to sensors on the exterior. Submarine hull penetrators made with hermetic GTMS and metals such as stainless steel, K-Monel or nickel-aluminum-bromine alloy provide the protection necessary for these technologies to operate without a hitch.

To learn more about the military- and navy-grade connectors available from AMETEK ECP, contact us today.

 

 

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