System safety engineering involves planning, identifying, documenting, and mitigating hazards that contribute to mishaps involving defense systems, platforms, or personnel (military and the public). The system safety practice aids in optimizing the safety of a system.

Department of Defense (DoD) engineers use the systems engineering process to influence system designs during all stages of the defense acquisition life cycle to mitigate identified hazards. The system safety engineering process applies to both hardware and software within the system or its associated system of systems (SoS).

With the coming influx of autonomous systems, artificial intelligence features, and the growing volume and complexity of software within systems, it is imperative to further develop and optimize the system safety engineering discipline to address these challenges.

Strategic Direction

DoD is committed to fielding systems that are safe for Warfighters and for the public. DoD continues to incorporate this requirement into current system technologies and in the research and engineering for future technologies such as autonomous systems and artificial intelligence.

Communities and Working Groups

Joint Weapon Safety Working Group

  • The weapon system safety community from the Services collaborate through the Joint Weapon Safety Working Group. The group was chartered by DoD Instruction 5000.69, DoD Joint Services Weapon and Laser System Safety Review Processes. The group meets periodically to address safety challenges facing the community.

DoD System Safety Roundtable

  • The system safety discipline is establishing a System Safety Roundtable to tackle current and emerging challenges. The working groups established by the Roundtable process engage these challenges with both Government and industry participants.

DoD Explosives Safety Board (DDESB)

Service-Specific Safety Communities



Unmanned System Safety Engineering Precepts Guide for DoD Acquisition

The DoD Offices of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (OUSD(R&E)) and OUSD for Acquisition and Sustainment (OUSD(A&S)) are issuing this Unmanned System Safety Engineering Precepts Guide, created in coordination with the Joint System Safety Community, to update the Unmanned Systems Safety Guide for DoD Acquisition published in 2007. The Guide is intended to support the development and design of safe UxS, associated safety significant software, support hardware and firmware, and Service safety reviews. The guide is directed toward UxS system safety engineers as well as UxS program managers (PMs), system designers, and test and evaluation (T&E) managers.

DoDI 5000.02T

Department of Defense Instruction (DoDI) 5000.02T, Operation of the Defense Acquisition System, Enclosure 3, Systems Engineering, provides system safety requirements Program Managers should follow as part of the acquisition process.

DoDI 5000.02

DoDI 5000.02, Operation of the Adaptive Acquisition Framework, is now published by the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment and reflects planned revisions to DoD acquisition policy.


MIL-STD-882E, Standard Practice for System Safety, provides information on the practice for hardware and software.

DoDI 5000.69

DoD Instruction 5000.69, DoD Joint Services Weapon and Laser System Safety Review Processes, mandates the joint system safety review process for weapons and lasers in the acquisition process. It contains details of the procedures and process agree upon by the Services to perform joint weapon system safety reviews.

DoDM 5000.69

DoD Manual 5000.69, DoD Joint Services Weapon System Safety Review Process, documents the step-by step process and criteria required to perform a joint Services weapon system safety review.

Joint Software System Safety Engineering Handbook, 2010.

AOP-52 (EDITION 1) – NATO Guidance on Software Safety Design and Assessment of Munition-Related Computing Systems



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Office of the Under Secretary of Defense,
Research and Engineering (USD(R&E))
The Pentagon, Washington, DC 20301