Defense specs for fiber-optic components gain momentum

by Dave Leight

The use of fiber-optic components in the U.S. military has grown along with the industry. Due to the variety of fiber-optic component defense specifications and the continual efforts of many government organizations and industry leaders to improve the specifications, the number of qualified sources to these documents has grown significantly.

The Defense Supply Center Columbus (DSCC) develops fiber-optic component defense specifications (“Mil Specs”) with coordinated input from the individual military services. Although the individual military services may write specifications for service-specific applications, defense specifications are generally coordinated for application across all Department of Defense (DoD) affiliated departments and government agencies. The fiber-optic documentation group at DSCC works directly with the military to document the requirements and test methodology for each type of fiber-optic component for critical applications.

The DSCC Qualification Unit audits manufacturing facilities to ensure compliance to the defense qualification program. Distributors and manufacturing facilities are listed on the Qualified Product List (QPL) once compliance has been met and approved. Manufacturing capabilities are monitored using conformance testing, and, to some extent inspections are performed when parts are shipped. The Document Standardization Unit works directly with the DSCC auditors to ensure reliable fiber-optic components. This support is accomplished in conjunction with the military services, fiber-optic industry vendors, and the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) FO-4 Engineering Committee on Fiber Optics. The DSCC fiber-optic group has worked with FO-4 for more than 30 years to develop and use common test methods. The Government Fiber Optic Position Committee is responsible for providing unified DoD comments on proposed TIA test methods.

This collaboration with the fiber-optic industry facilitates the continued momentum for the use of standard qualified fiber-optic components within the Department of Defense.

Dave Leight is an electronics technician in the Documentation Standardization Unit fiber-optic component group at the Defense Supply Center Columbus. He can be reached at

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