Addressing the Challenges of Lead-free Technology in Mil-Aero Electronics White Paper

The companies affected by the restrictions of RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) and WEEE (Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment), including most component manufacturers, have transitioned away from lead-based electronics. Aerospace and defense (A&D) applications are not explicitly named in RoHS and WEEE (yet) and therefore can continue to contain lead. However, the use of lead-free commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components for advanced technology military applications impacts the industry considerably, particularly with respect to reliability in harsh environments. The most infamous impact is likely tin whiskers, but there are many other effects that arise and must be addressed so that the industry can continue to produce high performance and reliable electronics.