The goal of electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) is part of every military information and communication system development project.
EMC dictates the way in which hardware (and even software) are able to work within an electrical and EM environment. If a piece of equipment can operate within an intended electrical and EM environment, it is said to be compliant.
If a unit is capable of operating while accepting electrical/electromagnetic interference from other systems, it is resilient to noise (thus complying with susceptibility requirements).
If the unit does not generate noise nor contribute to the electrical environment and allows neighboring equipment to operates intended, it is termed as being compliant with emission requirements.
If a system is not electromagnetically compliant, the consequences can be disastrous. For example, The HMS Sheffield was sunk in the Falklands War by an Argentinean Excocet missile because the ship’s radar and communication systems were incompatible.
In that tragedy, 21 men lost their lives and a further 24 were wounded. A number of Black Hawk helicopters were lost (along with a number of lives) because the hydraulic controls of the aircraft could not function within high RF environments, such as those typically encountered close to radar transmitters.
To ensure that equipment operates reliably under all electromagnetic and electrical conditions, a strict set of EMC requirements must be adhered to. Just as every developer is required to show that a system can operate within a range of temperature, vibration, mechanical shock or even chemical environments, so must an information and communication system be tested (or qualified) for EMC.
Military EMC specifications as set out in MIL-STD-461C/D/E1 are stringent and a challenge to meet. Experts in this field point out the “seven sins” or pitfalls that can sabotage the kind of systematic planning and management that assures EMC compliance in a finished system.
The first pitfall is not planning for EMC engineering. Except in the case of the least complex units, EMC compliance is a fundamental design goal that must be addressed from the beginning of the design project.
A general tendency among engineers and technology managers is to handle EMC as an afterthought. Th is strategy usually leads to products that must be retrofitted or even redesigned to meet EMC requirements.
Want to learn more? Tonex offers Performance and EMC Testing Training for Military & Aerospace, a 3-day bootcamp style training course covering all aspects of performance related MIL-STD-461, MIl-STD-464, MIL-STD-810 and DO 160.
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