Aerospace And Military Connectors - Criteria For Buyers

Designers of electronics-based systems for aerospace and military applications cannot afford to compromise on their choice of electronic connectors and this insistence on high quality and reliability standards is reflected in the way their buyers and specifiers select their connector supplier.

Manufacturers of high-rel connector systems and those that sell and support their products must meet a range of reliability, performance and quality standards, which ensure that each and every connector system will function correctly in the harsh electrical and mechanical environments often encountered in aerospace and military applications. Vibration, extremes of temperature and the ingress of dust and liquids are just some of the conditions that must be overcome if a mission critical system is to perform.

Space and weight considerations for connectors

So, apart from the obvious quality and reliability issues, what other factors are currently engaging the minds of connector buyers? According to Mick Varley, Business Development Manager for the aerospace and military sectors at Lane Electronics, it’s increasingly a question of size, weight and contact density.

“A great example is 38999 circular connectors” says Mick Varley. “These have gradually evolved into a well-established format, available in a range of sizes with a choice of pin counts, locking system, materials and plating options.

“While these connectors may look traditional from the outside, we are constantly being asked to provide 38999 connectors with an increasing variety and number of contacts in a smaller shell size to add versatility and help save system space and weight. As well as the contact density, it is also the function of those contacts that is changing. In addition to signal and power, customers increasingly need to connect data systems in harsh environments using high speed fibre-optic connectors or via the USB/RJ45 connector format and we are assembling an increasing number of 38999 circulars for these network applications.”

Connectors based on Souriau’s QUADRAX technology are thought to be the best solution for high speed electrical network applications, thanks to excellent crosstalk and return loss figures. Typical network applications include 100Mbit/s Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet and IEEE 1394. We assemble QUADRAX into MIL-DTL-38999 Series III heavy duty connectors, which are designed for applications across the military and aerospace industries.

For even greater space saving, Lane assembles Micro 38999 connectors that offer users the ability to specify the same number of contacts in a connector that is three times lighter, 33% smaller in diameter and 50% shorter in length.

Higher power levels for 38999 connectors

In recent years, Lane Electronics (a Souriau distributor) has also seen demand increase for 38999 connectors that can safely handle very high currents. Souriau’s Series III power connectors are designed specifically for military and aerospace applications and can handle up to 80A. Because of the connector’s unique contact design, they can be used wherever high power is required in environments where extremes of vibration and temperature are encountered, including hybrid drives, aircraft wing-mounted electro-hydraulic actuators, electro-mechanical actuators for aircraft thrust reversers and power distribution in military vehicles. There is also a higher power version of a Souriau connector with a single contact that will handle 750A.

Pricing and RoHS compliance

Although nobody wants to pay more than is necessary, buyers of high-reliability components recognise that quality, reliability and compliance with standards comes with a price premium. As a result, pricing is less of an issue than it often is with commercial grade connectors.

Many years after its widespread adoption, RoHS compliance is still high on the agenda for buyers of military and aerospace connectors. RoHS is generally referred to as the lead-free directive but it also includes Cadmium which was used extensively to protect connectors used in harsh environments. Today, many Cadmium-free finishes are available which offer the same protection levels but are RoHS compliant.

As you can see, at Lane Electronics we fully understand the requirements and criteria of connector buyers and pride ourselves on our prices, stock levels, fast turnaround and excellent customer service.

Whether you need circular connectors, RF connectors, d-sub miniature connectors, rack & panel connectors, IDC / DIN connectors or any related accessories we are ready to help you find the perfect connector solution at a competitive cost.

If you have any queries about any of the products we stock or general questions about Lane Electronics, please feel free to contact us here.

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