About MIL-STD-1553


Since its inception in 1973 and in subsequent revisions during the ensuing years, MIL-STD-1553 has evolved into the predominant, internationally accepted networking standard for the integration of military platforms. Today, the standard has expanded beyond its traditional domain of US Air Force and Navy aircraft to encompass applications for combat vehicles, ships, satellites, missiles, and the International Space Station Program, as well as advanced commercial avionic applications. Once considered primarily a military data bus standard, MIL-STD-1553 has caught the attention of commercial aircraft manufacturers who seek to capitalize upon the standard’s inherent reliability, robustness, maturity, and superior EMI performance. Despite the recent advent of newer and higher-speed technologies, it is clearly evident that 1553 will continue to be used extensively in evolving upgrade programs as well as for new applications and integration platforms for years to come.

A view of some of DDCs products in a F-14 jet fighter

MIL-STD-1553, Digital Internal Time Division Command/Response Multiplex Data Bus, is a military standard (presently in revision B), which has become one of the basic tools being used today by the DoD for integration of weapon systems. The standard describes the method of communication and the electrical interface requirements for subsystems connected to the data bus. The 1 Mbps serial communication bus is used to achieve aircraft avionic (MIL-STD-1553B) and stores management (MIL-STD-1760B) integration. Several other related documents exist. MIL-HDBK-1553 describes the implementation practices for this standard including: design considerations, examples of applications, and guidelines for implementations. Portions of MIL-STD-1553 are also the foundation of the MIL-STD-1773 (Fiber-optics), and MIL-STD-1760B (Stores Management) and, in addition, it is embodied in or referenced by the following international documents: NATO STANAG 3838, ASCC Air Standard 50/2, and UK DEF STAN 00-18 (Part 2)/Issue 1. DDC's web site features whitepapers, application notes, datasheets, and product briefs addressing a range of data bus applications.

Supporting documents such as the MIL-STD-1553 Multiplex Applications Handbook, the RT Validation and Production Test Plans, and DDC’s MIL-STD-1553 Designer’s Guide, have positively influenced the standard’s worldwide familiarity and acceptance.


The 1553 standard is organized similar to most military standards with a foreword, scope, referenced document section, definitions, general requirements, the appendix, and a tri-service Notice 2. Notice 2, which supersedes Notice 1, was developed to define which options of the standard are required to enhance tri-service interoperability and to further define some of the open-ended timing variables implied within the standard.


Some of the key MIL-STD-1553B elements are the bus controller, the embedded remote terminal (a sensor or subsystem that provides its own internal 1553 interface), the stand-alone remote terminal, bus monitor, and two other devices that are part of the 1553 integration; the twisted shielded pair wire data bus and the isolation couplers that are optional.


The bus controller’s main function is to provide data flow control for all transmissions on the bus. In this role, the bus controller is the sole source of communication. The system uses a command /response method.


The embedded remote terminal consists of interface circuitry located inside a sensor or subsystem directly connected to the data bus. Its primary job is to perform the transfer of data in and out of the subsystem as controlled by the bus controller. This type of terminal usually does not have bus controller capability. However, if the sensor itself is fairly intelligent, it can become a candidate for the backup bus controller function. Generally, an intelligent subsystem (i.e., computer based) can become a backup bus controller if a second computer, equal in function to the primary, is unavailable.

The stand-alone remote terminal is the only device solely dedicated to the multiplex system. It is used to interface various subsystem(s), which are not 1553 compatible with the 1553 data bus system. Its primary function is to interface and monitor transmission in and out of these non-1553 subsystem(s).


The bus monitor listens to all messages, and subsequently collects data, from the data bus. Primary applications of this mode of operation include: collection of data for on-board bulk storage or remote telemetry; or use within a “hot” or off-line back-up controller to observe the state and operational mode of the system and subsystems.


The fourth item is the data bus itself. The standard defines specific characteristics for the twisted pair shielded cable. Notice 2 tightens these requirements and adds a definition for connector polarity.


The last item to be discussed is the data bus coupler unit that isolates the main bus from the terminals. MIL-STD-1553B allows two types of data bus interface techniques; direct coupling and transformer coupling. Subsystems and 1553 bus elements are interfaced to the main data bus by interconnection buses (called “stubs”). These stubs are either connected directly to the main bus or interfaced via data bus couplers. The data bus couplers contain two isolation resistors (one per wire) and an isolation transformer (with a ratio of 1 to the square root of 2). The purpose of the data bus couplers is to prevent a short on a single stub from shorting the main data bus. The selection of the value of the resistors, the transformer’s turn ratio, and the receiver impedance are such that the stub appears to the main bus as a “clean interface” (i.e., high impedance). This technique reduces the distortion caused on the main data bus by the termination. The characteristics of the data bus couplers are discussed in paragraph 4.2.4 of our designer's guide. Main buses utilizing direct coupled stubs must be designed to withstand the impedance mismatch of the stubs. This can be reduced by minimizing stub length (less than one foot) and “tuning” the bus by terminal spacing.

Designs not using data bus couplers should be carefully analyzed and tested to determine if waveform distortion is significant enough to cause receiver problems.The other risk associated with direct coupled stubs is a short on a stub will cause the main bus to fail. The obvious advantage to direct coupled stubs is the elimination of the logistical problems associated with another device and the installation problem of locating these small devices (approximately 1 inch cube) in the aircraft. Today, data bus couplers and line terminating resistors are available in molded packages, which can become part of the wiring harness, thus eliminating some of the installation problems. Also, multiple data bus couplers and data bus line terminating resistors are available in single packages, which reduces the number of unique units installed per aircraft.


Data Device Corporation (DDC) is a leading international COTS/MOTS supplier of military and space grade MIL-STD-1553 cards to support embedded applications, as well as systems development and test simulation. DDC’s 1553 cards are offered in a variety of form factors, including PCI, PCI-104, PCI-Express, PMC, PCMCIA, PC/104, PC/104-Plus, cPCI, VME/VXI, ISAbus, AMC, and USB. Comprehensive software support is provided in the form of menus, libraries, and drivers, including high-level monitoring and simulation dataSIMS software for use in software development, system integration, and maintenance applications.

A view of some of DDCs 1553 Boards

DDC has more than 25 years of experience supplying advanced and innovative data bus components, such as our Enhanced Mini-ACE®, Mini-ACE®, and Micro-ACE® terminals, which are embedded within a host of mission and flight critical military data bus and commercial projects. These provide interfaces to processors, PCI buses, and “simple” (non-processor) systems. They feature a highly autonomous Bus Controller with message sequence control, flexible RT data buffering, extensive interrupt generation conditions, and built-in self-test.

Our newest data bus component, the Total-ACE™, is a fully integrated 1553 terminal, consolidating all the necessary MIL-STD-1553 components within a single, small, cost-effective PBGA package. The BU-64843T Total-ACE™ comprises a complete interface between a host computer and a MIL-STD-1553 bus that simplifies design, procurement, and qualification processes.

DDC now offers a line of MIL-STD-1553 components that are certifiable to DO-254 level A. The DO-254 standard provides guidelines for design assurance of airborne electronic hardware and calls out objectives that must be met by avionics equipment manufacturers to ensure continued airworthiness. DO-254 certification is required for all civil airborne electronic hardware, and, though not strictly mandated for military aircraft, military contractors are finding DO-254 increasingly important for military aircraft that must fly through civil airspace, as well as in the growing use of military avionics and data buses in commercial aircraft

A view of some of DDCs 1553 Components

DDC also offers a range of MIL-STD-1553 solutions including transceivers, transformers, intellectual property (IP), and space qualified, rad hard components for numerous platforms including aircraft, tanks, ships, spacecraft, test equipment, and industrial applications.

To view more information on 1553 and DDC’s other products, visit our file library.