If you travel back to the early decades of modern American military action—think pre-WWI—military shipping boxes and containers didn’t differ all that much from civilian shipping. There had yet to be established strict specifications (today referred to as MIL-SPEC) around military packaging, and vital materiel was reaching frontline troops damaged, unusable, or not at all.
During World War II, U.S. and Allied armies determined military standards were needed to ensure proper transport of equipment and artillery. Cataloging handbooks and standardized methods became the norm across most militaries, culminating in the first military standard, or MIL-STD, in 1963: MIL-STD-105.
Since MIL-STD-105—a specification that outlined procedures and testing for sampling by attributes—thousands of government standards have been enacted, revised, and archived.
At Greenwood Aerospace, we leverage 41 years of experience handling major contracts for all branches of the U.S. military and many government agencies to bring you the best service for your military shipping box needs. We ensure your shipments align with all military and government standards, and arrive where you need them, when you need them. Request a quote today, or reach out to us by email at email@example.com.
In this article, we cover the MIL-SPEC codes you need to know when we prepare your military shipping boxes, along with:
- Background on the need for military shipping box standards
- Modernized military shipping boxes
- The future of military shipping boxes
- What services Greenwood Aerospace offers our military
Before diving into the codes, let’s take a brief look at the history of MIL-SPEC for military shipping boxes.
Background on MIL-SPEC for Military Shipping Boxes
For much of U.S. military history, military shipping boxes were nearly interchangeable with commercial shipping containers. This was possible at home and abroad as logistics for shipping were equable for most shipping routes; the climates for the U.S. and Europe, where most early wars were fought, were similar.
Once military bases and action expanded across the world, personnel quickly realized the previous military shipping boxes couldn’t handle certain conditions and demands. Standards were enacted to solve for three major issues:
- The large increase in mileage of shipping routes
- The extreme climates of international bases and combat zones
- The lack of interchangeable parts among allied forces
Specialized Military Shipping Boxes Solve for Longer Shipping Routes
U.S. military action overseas can be traced back to as early as 1801, when the U.S. and Sweden battled Tripolitania (now Libya) during the First Barbary War. Although this is one of the earliest recorded international wars waged by the U.S. military, U.S. expansion abroad wouldn’t officially occur until over a decade later.
By 1813, the U.S. military had established Fort Madison on French Polynesian island Nuku Hiva, as protection for the Madisonville people during the Anglo-American War. This base presented the first of its kind in the Pacific Ocean. It would be almost 150 years before MIL-SPEC would be implemented, but the U.S. military faced one of its first military packaging tests: shipping materiel long distances by ocean.
Today, the U.S. has established approximately 750 military bases across 80 nations. Military shipping boxes are required to withstand short and long distances. Under the primary military standard for military shipping boxes, MIL-STD-2073, military shipping now abides by three primary checkpoints before approval:
- Military packaging
- Military preservation
- Military materiel packing
By ensuring shipments meet these three criteria, military shipping boxes are now capable of withstanding long distances, ocean travel, and severe shipping conditions.
Military Shipping Boxes Can Withstand All Climates
During the Korean and Persian Gulf Wars, military commands determined commercial and private shipping containers could not withstand long shipping distances or extreme climates, often damaging or disabling necessary materiel. After the Persian Gulf War, the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) convened with military and government agents to rectify these issues, and military packaging specifications were formally established.
Today, military shipping boxes are specially equipped for climates as diverse as the desert heat in Kuwait to the subzero cold in the Arctic Circle.
Under military standards, military shipping boxes intended for extreme climates must account for:
- Water vapor proofing
- Water vapor proofing with desiccant
- Physical protection
- Preservation coating
MIL-SPEC Enables Interchangeability During Wartime
Pertaining more toward the materiel inside military shipping boxes than the containers themselves, MIL-SPEC assists our troops and allies by providing standards for parts, ammunition, and equipment. This allows our soldiers and Allied nations to exchange necessary pieces during combat.
Standardized military shipping boxes are a core part of this process, ensuring vital supplies reach our servicemen and women intact and operable. Not only is this key in U.S. military efforts, it supports our allies and protectorates as well.
In order to prepare for extreme climates, assist our troops and allies, and handle extensive shipping routes, the U.S. government and military have codified specifications for military shipping boxes.
Primary MIL-SPEC Codes for Military Shipping Boxes
The primary code for military shipping is MIL-STD-2073-1. This code outlines procedures and best practices for the packaging, shipping, and handling of military shipping boxes (covered more in depth here).
Military specifications for all sizes, shapes, and functions of military shipping boxes and containers exist. Here, we dive into the MIL-SPEC codes you need to know for your military shipping box needs, including:
MIL-STD 1186 specifies that items in military shipping boxes must be properly secured and tested by appropriate means. Materiel must be:
- Cushioned, and/or
This standard superseded general specification JAN-P-100 in 1981, providing more military standardization to the securing and shipping of important materiel CONUS and OCONUS.
While this standard does not impact the type, size, or dimensions of military shipping boxes and containers, it does ensure your shipments arrive safe, secure, and operable.
MIL-C-104 pertains to types and classes of sheathed crating for military shipping boxes and containers. This standard organizes sheathed crating by three different labels:
The two types of sheathed crating are:
- Type I: Nailed
- Type II: Bolted
The two classes of sheathed crating are:
- Class 1: Lumber sheathed
- Class 2: Plywood sheathed
And the two styles of sheathed crating are:
- Style a: Skid base
- Style b: Sill base
MIL-C-104 also adheres to MIL-L-19140, requiring lumber and plywood crating to be fire retardant treated.
While many shipments still reference military standard MIL-C-104, it has since been superseded by ASTM-D-7478. ASTM, or the American Society for Testing and Materials, has supplanted many “retired” military standards, even though a good amount of MIL-STD are still in use post-retirement. Historically, military standards have been necessary to improve on general or federal standards that do not account for unique military requirements. In recent years, ASTM has incorporated military standards into general and federal practice, elevating overall standards to meet military-grade specifications.
Adapting to meet the demand of longer shipping routes and differing climates, the U.S. military enacted MIL-B-26195, outlining the requirements for wooden shipping containers for military shipments. Similar to MIL-C-104, MIL-B-26195 organizes wooden crating specifications by:
- Type: I & II; determines if shipment is domestic or overseas
- Style: A & B; specifies arrangement as Regular Cleating or Lock Corner Cleating
- Class: 1& 2; specifies if base is plywood or lumber
- Grade: I & II; indicates if wooden box is standard or fire retardant treated
Also similar to MIL-C-104, MIL-B-26195 was superseded by ASTM-D-6256, although many still use the military standard for packaging wooden boxes and crates.
Military shipping boxes and containers have required more specs and guidelines as technology has advanced. MIL-DTL-6060 accounts for such advanced military packaging, specifying complex shipping via water vapor proof and heat-sealable bags.
Detailing water vapor proof bags, MIL-DTL-6060 demands they must have:
- At least one double-seam heat seal
- At least one transparent panel for clear inspection
- Gasketed holes for hold-down
MIL-DTL-6060 also requires heat-sealed and water vapor proof shipping bags meet contractual specifications, as well as carry labels with waterproof ink and uppercase lettering.
Detailing the amount of military specifications—there are thousands—MIL-P-16789 specifically covers military packaging of pumps, including:
- Reciprocating pumps
- Positive displacement pumps
- Oxygen pumps
- Hydraulic pumps
- Axial flow pumps
National security begins with ensuring all avenues of military and civilian shipping and receiving are safe, and MIL-SPEC’s thoroughness guarantees that no consideration is vulnerable.
Formally MIL-B-2427, MIL-DTL-2427 outlines the three types of military shipping box designs for securing and packaging ammunition. The specification also covers:
- Closing and strapping requirements
- Serviceability of government furnished boxes
- Basic box design features, including hinge hardware, rope handles, and double end construction
Federal Codes Pertaining to Military Shipping Boxes
While the majority of shipping and packaging specifications fall under MIL-SPEC purview, federal and general specifications are often capable of ensuring proper procedures.
Commonly used federal specifications for military shipping boxes include:
Federal specification PPP-B-601 concerns cleated plywood shipping containers. The specification also covers intended use and shipping distance of the wooden crates—whether CONUS or OCONUS—and is primarily intended for general supply shipments.
PPP-B-621 covers nailed and lock-corner wooden shipping containers. The specification also outlines:
- Assembled wooden shipping crates
- Knocked down shipping crates
- Intended use of shipping containers (CONUS or OCONUS)
PPP-B-576 concerns the federal specifications for wood-cleated panelboard shipping containers. The specification also indicates whether the container is shipping CONUS and OCONUS, and details weight limitations on the wooden boxes, specifically:
- No more than 500 pound shipments CONUS
- No more than 400 pound shipments OCONUS
Non-MIL-SPEC Codes for Military Shipping Boxes
While federal and general specifications have slowly superseded most military standards and specifications, many non-MIL-SPEC codes for military shipping boxes are worth reviewing to understand the breadth of safety and security that we put into all of our military shipping boxes and containers prior to shipment.
The most common non-MIL-SPEC codes for military shipping boxes are:
- Federal Supply Class (FSC) Codes
- Department of Defense Function Codes
- ANSI ASC X12 Codes
Federal Supply Class Codes
Federal Supply Class codes, or FSC codes, categorize common shipments, material, and supplies into “families,” using four-digit indicators to classify these groupings. FSC codes cover everything from weaponry to electric lamps.
Department of Defense Function Codes
While not entirely pertaining to military shipping boxes, Department of Defense (DoD) function codes help identify the types of work being performed within the national defense infrastructure. When all parts coordinate, the military is able to function at peak performance. Function codes working in tandem with MIL-SPEC guarantees shipments are correct and efficient.
ANSI ASC X12 Codes
ANSI ASC X12 codes serve as conversion codes for national and international business-to-business exchanges. The DoD uses exchange codes to streamline operations during military infrastructure operations.
What Greenwood Aerospace Offers for Military Shipping Boxes
Seeking an expert team to service your military shipping needs? We here at Greenwood Aerospace have over forty years’ experience in government procurement, contracting, logistics, and storage and distribution. Our services include:
- MIL-SPEC packaging
- Military and defense contracting
- Military aircraft parts
- Government procurement
- Aviation logistics
- Ground support equipment
- And more!
We proudly partner with all branches of the U.S. military to support national security and assist our troops in every way we can. We take special care to ensure all military shipping boxes meet set standards to reach our brave men and women all across the world.
We provide extensive service for your military shipping boxes such as:
- Proper crating, containment, and shipping of all materiel
- Proper labeling for all shipments
- Full compliance with MIL-SPEC packaging codes
- Custom crating
Contact Greenwood Aerospace for Your Military Shipping Needs
Ready to partner with us for all your military packaging needs? Contact us now, and we will respond as rapidly as we ship.
Interested in a short-term contract, or have other parts procurement needs? Request a quote or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and one of our experienced representatives will get back to you shortly.
We look forward to working with you!