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What is a Military Power Supply?

By Mal Baxter
Updated May 17, 2024
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A military power supply is a component that supplies electric current, battery power, and other types of power for tough performance conditions. These supplies come small or large for use in all manner of technologies in military, industrial, and commercial products. Typically rugged and durable, they are often designed to drive electronics systems through harsh conditions and weather. Originally designed for use in military communications, radar, and avionics, these components now perform in medical, telecommunications, and private radio applications. They are often housed in shielded enclosures and are characterized by compact, efficient, site-specific design.

Most types of military power supply are constructed to accommodate specific outputs, currents, or voltages. They may fit into technology with unusual shapes or temperature tolerances. Many are shielded from electromagnetic interference (EMI) in accordance with strict standards, to optimize power consumption and provide a constant supply of power for critical equipment. Units sometimes output current to power converters and amplifiers for numerous technologies. The equipment comes in low to high voltages, and alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC) combinations.

One common application for a military power supply is in batteries for radio communications. Designed for high-stress battlefield use in handheld and field radios, these units are known for a generally tougher performance in a variety of specifications. They might be rechargeable or non-rechargeable; battery types consist of alkaline, lithium ion, nickel cadmium, and others, to power radios with reliable high performance.

Typically, a military power supply is designed in order to meet the extreme conditions encountered by armed forces, with maximum capacities through extremes of vibration, shock, and temperature. Units can service lasers and detectors, helmet and panel displays, vehicles, tanks and ships. They power aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). Other components are in numerous mechanical systems, filtration systems, and pumps. In general, these unique components may have higher costs and less technical support.

Some components are classed as commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) systems. That is, they may be mass-produced commercially but employed in military applications. Not custom-produced for unique specifications in the defense market, COTS items cost less to produce and may save users time and money.

Development of military power supply technology drives toward increased power density and reduced costs. Frequently, private companies rely on the technology not only to preserve constant power supply, but also to provide no-load power consumption to equipment that sits in standby mode, such as vending machines. Requiring no special license for purchase, manufacturers and distributors make military components directly available for private purchase in stores and online.

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