COTS (commercial off-the-shelf) is now a familiar name for the initiative that was devised to offer designers of military and aerospace electronics systems access to low-cost alternatives to full mil-spec parts. As the acronym implies, these commercial products have not been specifically designed or qualified for the military market.

To meet potentially more demanding equipment performance requirements, though, manufacturers may not have specified these components for operation over wider temperature ranges or with greater tolerance in respect of electrical parameters such as supply voltage.

Designers who need to meet tougher operating conditions, such as high humidity or extremes of shock and vibration, are calling for more ruggedized versions of COTS products. Such options still need to satisfy the “off-the-shelf” criteria of being a catalogue product but may be selected from a range qualified for other applications, such as automotive components conforming to AEC-Q200, and applied using more conservative design rules. These parts, which still avoid the need for high-reliability qualification, are now being referred to as COTS+