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MIL-STD-461

Military EMC Testing

The United States Department of Defense and its branches follow the MIL-STD-461 EMC test standard. This standard consists of both the test methods (i.e. how the test is to be performed) and the standard test limits used to determine acceptability of the electronic unit electromagnetic performance. The latest version of this standard is MIL-STD-461G which is widely followed.

Key Tests in MIL-STD-461G

The following test methods are applicable to nearly all military applications. See the links for detailed guidance and recommendations on how to analyze and design units to these EMC methods.


Summary of MIL-STD-461G Applicability


Requirements for the Control of Electromagnetic Interference Characteristics of Subsystems and Equipment


This standard establishes interface and associated verification requirements for the control of the electromagnetic interference (EMI) emission and susceptibility characteristics of electronic, electrical, and electromechanical equipment and subsystems designed or procured for use by activities and agencies of the Department of Defense (DoD). Such equipment and subsystems may be used independently or as an integral part of other subsystems or systems. This standard is best suited for items that have the following features: electronic enclosures that are no larger than an equipment rack, electrical interconnections that are discrete wiring harnesses between enclosures, and electrical power input derived from prime power sources. This standard should not be directly applied to items such as modules located inside electronic enclosures or entire platforms. The principles in this standard may be useful as a basis for developing suitable requirements for those applications. Data item requirements are also included.


Application-specific environmental criteria may be derived from operational and engineering analyses on equipment or subsystems being procured for use in specific systems or platforms. When analyses reveal that the requirements in this standard are not appropriate for that procurement, the requirements may be tailored and incorporated into the request-for-proposal, specification, contract, order, and so forth, prior to the start of the test program. The test procedures contained in this document are generic test methods and should be adapted as necessary for each application, while maintaining the intent of the test, and should be approved by the procuring activity. The adapted test procedures should be documented in the Electromagnetic Interference Test Procedures (EMITP) (see 6.3).

Equipment and Subsystems Installed In, On, or Launched From the Following Platforms or Installations Requirement Applicability
CE101 CE102 CE106 CS101 CS103 CS104 CS105 CS109 CS114 CS115 CS116 CS117 CS118 RE101 RE102 RE103 RS101 RS103 RS105
Surface Ships A A L A S L S L A S A L S A A L L A L
Submarines A A L A S L S L A S L S S A A L L A L
Aircraft, Army, Including Flight Line A A L A S S S   A A A L A A A L A A L
Aircraft, Navy L A L A S S S   A A A L A L A L L A L
Aircraft, Air Force   A L A S S S   A A A L A   A L   A  
Space Systems, Including Launch Vehicles   A L A S S S   A A A L     A L   A  
Ground, Army   A L A S S S   A A A S A   A L L A  
Ground, Navy   A L A S S S   A A A S A   A L L A L
Ground, Air Force   A L A S S S   A A A   A   A L   A  
Legend:
A: Applicable
L: Limited as specified in the individual sections of this standard.
S: Procuring activity must specify in procurement documentation.


Revisions of MIL-STD-461

Originally issued in 1967, several revisions have been made to this standard. Some applications such as space satellites often follow older versions of the standard. This is avoid having to retest units that have flight heritage, but also because satellite manufacturers have a lot of history and confidence in these standards. Here is a list of the older versions of MIL-STD-461 that are still used.

Standard Release Date
MIL-STD-461G December 11, 2015
MIL-STD-461F December 10, 2007
MIL-STD-461E August 20, 1999
MIL-STD-461D January 11, 1993
MIL-STD-461C August 04, 1986