MIL Standards: MIL-STD-461G: Electromagnetic Interference Characteristics of Equipment

MIL-STD-461G is the military test standard that establishes requirements for the electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) of devices and systems created for and used by the United States Department of Defense (DoD). In the pages of MIL-STD-461G, a comprehensive set of test procedures are defined to fulfill the DoD’s electromagnetic emissions and susceptibility regulations. The test procedures are broken up into four groups: radiated emissions (RE), conducted emissions (CE), radiated susceptibility (RS) and conducted susceptibility (CS). Procedures are named with one of the two-letter abbreviations followed by a code; for example, RE103, a radiation emissions test procedure specific to antenna spurious and harmonic outputs. 

Detecting rogue signals and electromagnetic interference is crucial to the military, as everything from a cellphone to a navigation component on a stealth jet produces an electromagnetic field and can potentially threaten safety, efficiency or secret communications. The DoD created an Electromagnetic Compatibility Program to address the growing concern that EMI was affecting military operations with the goal of integrating electromagnetic compatibility into defense industry R&D. Ever since, the three branches of the military have collaborated to produce updated and expanded versions, cumulating in the most recent edition of the standard: MIL-STD-461G. The changes made between MIL-STD-461F and MIL-STD-461G can be seen below. Major differences include the removal of CS106 and the addition of CS117 and CS118.

View the differences between MIL-STD-461F and MIL-STD-461G.

Requirement Matrix

Equipment CE101 CE102 CE106 CS101 CS103 CS104 CS105 CS109 CS114
Surface Ships A A L A S L S L A
Submarines A A L A S L S L A
Aircraft, Army A A L A S S S   A
Aircraft, Navy L A L A S S S   A
Aircraft, Air Force   A L A S S S   A
Space Systems   A L A S S S   A
Ground, Army   A L A S S S   A
Ground, Navy   A L A S S S   A
Ground, Air Force   A L A S S S   A
Equipment CS115 CS116 CS117 CS118 RE101 RE102 RE103 RS101 RS103 RS105
Surface Ships S A L S A A L L A L
Submarines S L S S A A L L A L
Aircraft, Army A A L A A A L A A L
Aircraft, Navy A A L A L A L L A L
Aircraft, Air Force A A L A   A L   A  
Space Systems A A L     A L   A  
Ground, Army A A S A   A L L A  
Ground, Navy A A S A   A L L A L
Ground, Air Force A A   A   A L   A  

A = Applicable
L = Limited applicability
S = Specified in procurement
Blank = Not Applicable

Background of MIL-STD-461G

In 1960, the US Department of Defense (DoD) enacted a comprehensive Defense Radio Frequency Compatibility Program (later renamed Electromagnetic Compatibility Program) that focused the Military Services R&D programs "to provide a means whereby electromagnetic compatibility should be 'built into' military communications-electronics equipment in the research and development stage". In 1966, EMC personnel of the three military departments jointly drafted standards addressing the interference reduction needs of the entire Department of Defense. That effort culminated in 1967 in the issuance of Military Standards 461, 462 and 463.

As a result, approximately 20 basic and subsidiary specifications were superseded. The 461 document focused on requirements and the 462 standard prescribed measurement methodology. Definitions and acronyms were contained in 463. Considerable revision was required and MIL-STD-461A was issued in August 1968. MIL-STD-461 was accepted by the joint services and was also used by many other countries. Eventually, the different military agencies (Army, Air Force, and Navy) found many items to their dissatisfaction, and thus many revisions were issued by each of the three services until 1989. The most noted difference was the "Pink Copy" issued by the Army.

MIL-STD 461 also takes care of High Intensity Radiated Fields (HIRF) testing for equipment for almost all military systems by increased levels for the radiation susceptibility test and also the "Bulk Current Injection"-test.

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