What Exactly is MIL-STD 810?

MIL-STD 810 is a Department of Defense Test Method Standard for environmental engineering considerations and laboratory tests.  It is the most popular Military specification used to conduct environmental testing of military products.  It exists so as to ensure that products used for defense-related purposes meet very specific requirements with regard to ruggedness, durability, and performance.  Given the fact that these products may be exposed to harsh or even extreme conditions, their reliability under stress is essential

MIL-STD 810 is jointly maintained by the Army, Navy, and Air Force, while being enforced by the Department of Defense.  There have been a number of iterations of MIL-STD 810, and the current version is MIL-STD 810H.  This military standard is periodically updated to reflect emerging technologies, as well as to amend any deficiencies which have become apparent with experience.  The updates are made by a MIL-STD 810 Working Group comprised of experts from the Army, Navy, Air Force and private industry.  

MIL-STD 810 is a standard which has now reached over 1,000 pages in length, and is comprised of three major sections: Environmental Engineering Program Guidelines, Laboratory Test Methods, and World Climatic Regions.  The second of these, the Laboratory Test Methods, is the one which many manufacturers focus on the most, because it’s the one which contains test procedures.

Purpose of Mil Std 810

The purpose of Mil-Std 810 is to ensure products will survive in harsh military applications.  Additionally, it helps achieve the objective of developing products that will perform adequately under the environmental conditions likely to be found throughout their life-cycle in the regions of intended use.

Part One’s, Environmental Engineering Program Guidelines, purpose is to describe management, engineering, and technical roles in the environmental design and testing process.  It focuses on the process of tailoring materiel design and test criteria to the specific environmental conditions an item is likely to encounter during its service life.

Part Two’s, Laboratory Test Methods, objective is to define test methods that can be consistently performed by any laboratory.  This section also defines requirements for equipment used to perform testing.  It contains environmental data and references, and identifies possible tailoring opportunities for the test methods.  Some methods afford a wide latitude for tailoring; while some have relatively few tailoring options.  There is also background information to help determine the appropriate level of tailoring.

Part Three, contains a compendium of climatic data from World Regions.  Its purpose is to provide climatic data to aid in the research, development, test, and evaluation of items used throughout their life cycles in various regions throughout the world.   

Product testing with MIL-STD 810

Products that are sold to the Military have to undergo extensive reliability testing, usually to a Military standard.  MIL-STD 810 is the most popular standard used for this application.   Testing must be conducted in specially equipped laboratories capable of subjecting products to harsh test conditions.  There are numerous types of tests which can be conducted on a given product, checking conditions such as low pressure, high & low temperatures, rain, sand or dust, vibration, shock, icing and freezing, acceleration, and acoustic noise.  The list of specific methods in MIL-STD 810 is as follows:

  • Method 500  Low Pressure (Altitude)
  • Method 501 High Temperature
  • Method 502 Low Temperature
  • Method 503 Temperature Shock
  • Method 504 Contamination by Fluids
  • Method 505 Solar Radiation (Sunshine)
  • Method 506 Rain
  • Method 507 Humidity
  • Method 508 Fungus
  • Method 509 Salt Fog
  • Method 510.Sand and Dust
  • Method 511 Explosive Atmosphere
  • Method 512 Immersion
  • Method 513 Acceleration
  • Method 514 Vibration
  • Method 515 Acoustic Noise
  • Method 516.Shock
  • Method 517 Pyroshock
  • Method 518 Acidic Atmosphere
  • Method 519 Gunfire Shock
  • Method 520 Combined Environments, Temperature, Humidity, Vibration, and Altitude
  • Method 521 Icing/Freezing Rain
  • Method 522 Ballistic Shock
  • Method 523 Vibro-Acoustic/Temperature
  • Method 524 Freeze / Thaw
  • Method 525 Time Waveform Replication
  • Method 526 Rail Impact
  • Method 527 Multi-Exciter
  • Method 528 Mechanical Vibrations of Shipboard Equipment


Over the years, MIL-STD 810 has been developed as a means to ensure that products used by the armed forces perform optimally, even under extreme conditions such as might be encountered in harsh climates or under combat conditions.  Because these test conditions are so thorough, they have also been adopted by some civilian manufacturers who wish to claim that their products have been designed and engineered to the same exacting standards required by the Military. You can therefore expect that any product that is tested to MIL-STD-810 requirements will perform well, even when exposed to severe conditions.

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