SAE Cancels Two Mil Specs

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In separate notifications last month, SAE International cancelled two longtime military heavy-duty engine oil specifications, J2359 and J2361. The former is officially entitled Lubricating Oil, Internal Combustion Engine, Military Combat/Tactical Service; J2361 is Lubricating Oil, Internal Combustion Engine, Preservative Break-In. The two commercial standards were written 15 years ago, but the U.S. Army has found them less useful over time.

Both cancellations are the result of a Nov. 15 letter requesting this action from Allen S. Comfort, project engineer for the U.S. Armys Fuels and Lubricants Technology Team in Warren, Mich. The Army first requested this action in 2007, but SAE couldn’t get enough members to vote on it. So both documents lingered out there for five more years, until SAE finally was able to get them off the books through recent votes in Technical Committee 1.

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In his letter, Comfort outlined the Armys rationale for the request. He noted that SAE J2359 (MIL-PRF-2104G in Army parlance) and SAE J2361 (MIL-PRF-2104G plus extended corrosion prevention) were originally issued in November 1998 as commercial descriptions, in a drive to leverage non-government standard organizations such as SAE to better align military needs with commercial manufacturers and suppliers.

Unfortunately, Comfort continued, commercial heavy-duty diesel engine oil service categories since then have mainly been driven by emission requirements. (By contrast, military needs tend to be dominated by issues of equipment durability and preparedness.) Thus, the commercial and military requirements have become increasingly out of sync.

This inconsistency has led to very little interest from industry and support of these documents, Comfort said. Furthermore, because of the military uniqueness of the requirements, the administration of these documents is most efficiently handled within the Department of Defense, under current procedures for military performance requirements/specifications.

Comfort stressed that the Army sought to cancel only the SAE commercial item description standards. The Armys own MIL-PRF specifications are still alive and well as military performance specifications.

Luis A. Villahermosa, supervisor of the Army Fuels and Lubricants Technology Team in Warren, Mich., told Lube Report that MIL-PRF-2104G covers a number of heavy-duty straight grades that the military uses, such as SAE 10, 30 and 40, while multigrades such as SAE 15W-40 and 5W-40 are under MIL-PRF-2104H. The Army is currently working on a revision that will bring these together into a single, more cohesive specification.

Historically, the approval of military specification lubricants has been handled by the Lubricants Review Institute, a branch of SAE. The LRI draws on a group of industry experts, primarily from engine manufacturers, who review the candidate products test data and, where applicable, test-engine parts. Approved products then are listed as qualified for procurement by the Army. This acceptance is contingent on the product using its original base stock-additive combination, which cannot be changed over the life of the approval (usually four years) without re-approval.

At one time, military specifications were an industry-accepted measure of oil performance but they long ago were supplanted by the American Petroleum Institutes Engine Oil Licensing and Certification System, which covers both heavy-duty and passenger car engine oils as well as the ILSAC GF series.