Commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) items continue to play a significant role in the development and production of defense systems under acquisition reform initiatives. With concerns focussing mainly on top-level performance specifications, end-users do not have the luxury of governing processes used in the manufacture of such items. Accordingly, as the electronics industry proceeds with ever-increasing initiatives in “green” technologies, end-users can expect to find new materials and processes present in COTS products. With respect to electronic interconnection, a specific case is the trend to use alternative materials to lead-bearing solders. Such alternative materials fall into two technology areas: non-lead solders and electrically conductive (polymeric) adhesives. Within commercial applications, these alternate materials have operated sufficiently in relatively benign environments. Since these materials are used as the sole electronic interconnection medium, aerospace and defense original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) need to concern themselves with the overall performance characteristics of these materials in harsher service environments. In this context, performance characteristics include operational and reliability requirements. Note that in surface mount technology, understanding of performance characteristics is of special concern since the interconnection also serves as the primary means of mechanical attachment. The objectives of this paper are: 1. To discuss lead-free evaluative efforts to date, 2. Discuss concerns and approaches, presently under consideration, regarding implementation of these “green” technologies, and 3. Prompt further dialogue in addressing these issues.

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