Why Was the Concept of a NSN Created?


The aerospace and defense industries are complex and hectic industries that require a sense of order. The various aircraft, UAVs, maintenance equipment, and testing components all amass to an enormous group of components and subcomponents that are constantly being manufactured, sourced, and shipped around the globe.

During WWII, the need for aerospace and defense components was at its peak. The problem however, was that one single part could have several different names depending on who was supplying it. To make things even more complicated, the part could be in short supply in one region, but overstocked in another. With no formal system, it was impossible to efficiently source components.

To overcome this sourcing issue, the Department of Defense created the NSN system. National Stock Numbers, or NSNs, are 13-digit serial numbers assigned to all standardized items within the federal supply chain. All components that are used by the U.S Department of Defense are required to have an NSN, the purpose of which is to provide a standardized naming of components. Also known as NATO stock numbers, NSNs are recognized by all NATO countries. The NSN can be further broken down into smaller subcategories, each providing individual information about the component. To begin, the first four digits of the NSN are known as the Federal Supply Classification Group. The FSCG determines which of the 645 subclasses an item belongs to.

The FSCG is further split into the Federal Supply Group (FSG) and the Federal Supply Classification (FSC). The FSG is made up of the first two digits of the NSN which determines which of the 78 groups an item belongs to. The second 2 digits make up the FSC, which determines the subclass an item belongs to. In the aerospace industry a key federal supply group is FSG 15: Aircraft and Airframe Structural Components. The remaining 9 digits are made up of the 2-digit country identifier followed by the 7 National Item Identification Number (NIIN). The US for example,  has the country identifier, 00. 

An item must first be formally recognized by one of the following bodies; Military service, NATO country, federal or civil agency, or various contractor support weapon systems, before it is assigned an NSN. Once they have a specific need for the specific part, the details are then sent over to the DLA for assignment. There are tens of millions of items with NSNs. They aren’t just assigned to one component either. In fact, entire systems are assigned their own NSN. Aircraft avionic systems have one NSN, while the smaller components of the system have their own.

The purpose of this system is to help expedite maintenance and repair programs. To help manage the vast amount of NSNs, each NSN is assigned an item manager, who monitors the Stock and Supply of the National Stock Number, ensuring that it is readily available military purposes. 

All in all, NSNs are essential for maintaining order and uniformity within the aerospace and defense industries. The DLA relies on suppliers big and small, to routinely stock and supply NSN parts. The federal supply chain is a lucrative market for those who are well informed about the NSN system. At Just NSN Parts, we are just that. Our extensive inventory includes premium NSNs that are conveniently listed according to manufacturer, NSN, CAGE code or NIIN. Visit our website, https://www.justnsnparts.com, or call us at  +1-714-705-4780 to learn more about our NSN sourcing services. 


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