NATO Stock Number
A NATO Stock Number, or National Stock Number (NSN) as it is known in the US, is a 13-digit numeric code, identifying all the 'standardized material items of supply' as they have been recognized by all NATO countries including United States Department of Defense. Pursuant to the NATO Standardization Agreements, the NSN has come to be used in all treaty countries. However, many countries that use the NSN program are not members of NATO, e.g. Japan, Australia and New Zealand. A two-digit Material Management Aggregation Code (MMAC) suffix may also be appended, to denote asset end use but it is not considered part of the NSN. In the United Kingdom it is known as a Domestic Management Code(DMC)
An item having an NSN is said to be "stock-listed".
- 1 Structure
- 2 History
- 3 NIIN Catalogs
- 4 Fictionalized NSNs
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
The NATO Stock Number consists of the NATO Supply Class (NSC or FSC) and the National Item Identification Number (NIIN). However the NIIN alone uniquely identifies the item, the FSC merely adds context by indicating the general classification of the item. The format of an NSN might be described as follows:
Each element, a through m, was originally intended to be a single decimal digit. As inventories grew in complexity, element g became alphanumeric, beginning with capital A for certain newly added items. By 2000, uppercase C was in use.
Federal Supply Classification Group (FSCG)
The initial subgroup, abcd, is the Federal Supply Classification Group (FSCG)  or National Supply Classification Group (NSCG). In theory, similar items would always have closely related numbers in this section of the NSN, no matter how the section is referred to. As the number of items has steadily increased and the system has become more complicated, it has not always been possible to keep similarity in numbers when the items are similar.
National Item Identification Number (NIIN)
The nine digits, ef-ghi-jklm, comprise the NIIN (National Item Identification Number). This format improves readability but is optional as NIINs are often listed without hyphens.
The first two digits of the NIIN (the ef pair) is used to record which country was the first to codify the item—which one first recognized it as an important item of supply. This is generally the country of origin, meaning the country of final manufacture. The formal name of the field is CC for Country Code or NCB, because NCB also stands for National Codification Bureau. The NCB is the organisation, typically a government agency, in charge of maintaining the NCS database within a given country. The other 7 characters are a non significant identification number (actually code, as some of these characters may be alphanumeric, although in general NIINs are strictly numeric). Following are the NCB codes:
As the list shows, users of the NCS system not only include the 28 NATO member countries, but the 37 NATO-sponsored countries as well. It is also grouped into tiers indicating participation and access.
Department of Defense Identification Code (DODIC)
This is an alphanumeric four-symbol code consisting of one or two letters followed by two or three numerals. (The numeral "Zero" (0) and the letter "O" (O) are considered the numeral "0" in the alphanumeric system to reduce confusion). This code is shown either after the NSN or on the line underneath it on the container. The DODIC identifies the item, while the NSN identifies what type of item it is and how it is packaged and contained.
Sometimes The DODIC also contains a two-numeral NCB code prefix for the manufacturer's or repacker's country if it is different from the packager's country.
Department of Defense Ammunition Code (DODAC)
The DODAC includes the 4-digit NSC of the ammunition and the 4-symbol DODIC. This is used in calculating ammunition transactions to reduce errors. It is notated on DD Form 581, DA Form 3151-R, and most ammunition reports.
The Lot Number is used for quality control. If a batch is faulty or defective, the Lot Number can be used to track down who made it, where it was made, and when it was made.
The Lot Number consists of the 1, 2, or 3-letter manufacturer's code, the two-numeral year of manufacture, the letter code - A (January) through M (December) - indicating the month, an interfix (or "batch") code that consists of 1 or more numerals, and the serial number (indicating the sequence the lot is in the batch).
If the lot is made up of salvaged ammunition, it must be from the same Lot. If different ammunition types are mixed (as when ball and tracer ammunition are linked into a machinegun belt) and they originally had separate lot numbers, they must have all the ammunition lot numbers marked on the packaging. The repacker also has to put their manufacturer or military depot code and the two-digit year it was repacked on the packaging as well.
The NSN is an expanded version of the older Federal Stock Number (FSN), which lacked the national-origin code labeled ef above, in the second subgroup. Items predating 1974 in warehouses are frequently stenciled with FSNs. As of 1998, the system is principally administered by the Defense Logistics Agency within the U.S. Department of Defense.
Other stock numbering systems are in use within the US DoD, but as of 2005, the NSN remained the most common and least ambiguous way to identify most standardized items of supply.
A Federal Stock Number (FSN) was an 11-digit numeric code. It was first used by the Defense Munitions Board's Cataloging Agency in 1949 to identify items in the Joint Army-Navy Catalog System. The Federal Stock Number was used officially from 1953 to 1974, when it was replaced by the National Stock Number. The conversion from FSN to NSN was typically done by adding "00" between the first set of numbers (the Federal Supply Class, or FSC) and the second set of numbers.
For example, the FSN:
NIIN / NSN Catalogs include a significant number of items directly associated with military equipment in general, as well as items of a more generic use. These include Electronic Components, Medical Equipment, Office Furniture, Food items, Clothing, Industrial goods (pumps, valves, motors...) and all kinds of Fasteners (bolts, nails, rivets...), to name a few. For this reason, catalogs have a broader appeal, beyond their original audience (Defense agencies and their direct contractors.)
The US Catalog covers in the order of 6 Million NIINs (Items of Supply) for a total of 13 Million Items of Production (Part Number + Manufacturer reference).
The NATO Support Agency compiles on a regular basis the catalogs of several member nations, for the production of the NATO Master Catalogue of References for Logistics (NMCRL). This combined catalog, totaling 16 Million NIINs for approximately 32 Million Parts, is then published on DVD.
Several companies or governmental agencies publish NIIN Catalogs online or on other media. These catalogs vary greatly in term of the completeness of the information as some items and/or some segments of information may be excluded, for [USA] Security reasons or simply for lack of interest by the target audience. The distribution of these catalogs vary also in terms of the subscription cost and access or export restrictions. Some merely provide a "Part Number" lookup, while others offer advanced features such as parametric search (Search of items driven by the technical characteristics such as physical dimensions, material, color etc.) or links to associated data set.
It is not unheard of for certain numbers to be referred to in works of fiction as if they were NSNs—especially in military science fiction. This can be seen as a variation on the false document technique, something used creatively in order to lend an air of authenticity.