Joint Electronics Type Designation System

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The Joint Electronics Type Designation System (JETDS), which was previously known as the Joint Army-Navy Nomenclature System (AN System. JAN) and the Joint Communications-Electronics Nomenclature System, is a method developed by the U.S. War Department during World War II for assigning an unclassified designator to electronic equipment. In 1957, the JETDS was formalized in MIL-STD-196.

Computer software and commercial unmodified electronics for which the manufacturer maintains design control are not covered.


Electronic materiel, from a military point of view, generally includes those electronic devices employed in data processing, detection and tracking (underwater, sea, land-based, air and space), recognition and identification, communications, aids to navigation, weapons control and evaluation, flight control, and electronics countermeasures. Nomenclature is assigned to:

  • Electronic materiel of military design
  • Commercial electronic materiel that has been modified for military use and requires military identification and design control
  • Electronic materiel which is intended for use by other Federal agencies or other governments that participate in the nomenclature system.


In the JETDS system, complete equipment sets or systems are designated with a sequence of letters and digits prefixed by AN/, then three letters, a hyphen, a number, and (occasionally) some optional letters (AN/AAA-nnn suffixed by (Vn){hardware/software version} or (T){training equipment} . The three letters tell where the equipment is used, what it does and its purpose. For example, the AN/PRC-77 is a Portable Radio used for two way Communications. The model numbers for any given type of equipment are assigned sequentially, thus higher numbers indicate more modern systems.

The three letter codes have the following meanings:

First letter: installation[edit]

  • A - Piloted Aircraft
  • B - Underwater Mobile (submarine)
  • C - Cryptographic Equipment (NSA use only) (was Air Transportable)
  • D - Pilotless Carrier (drone, UAV)
  • F - Fixed Ground
  • G - General Ground Use
  • K - Amphibious
  • M - Mobile (ground)
  • P - Portable
  • S - Water (surface ship)
  • T - Transportable (ground)
  • U - General Utility (multi use)
  • V - Vehicular (ground)
  • W - Water Surface and Underwater combined
  • Z - Piloted-Pilotless Airborne Vehicles combined

Second letter: type of equipment[edit]

  • A - Invisible Light, Heat Radiation (e.g., infrared)
  • B - COMSEC (NSA use only) (was Pigeon)
  • C - Carrier (electronic wave or signal)
  • D - Radiac (Radioactivity Detection, Identification, and Computation)
  • E - Laser (was NUPAC, Nuclear Protection & Control)
  • F - Fiber Optics (was Photographic)
  • G - Telegraph or Teletype
  • I - Interphone and Public Address
  • J - Electromechanical or Inertial Wire Covered
  • K - Telemetering
  • L - Countermeasures
  • M - Meteorological
  • N - Sound in Air
  • P - Radar
  • Q - Sonar and Underwater Sound
  • R - Radio
  • S - Special or Combination
  • T - Telephone (Wire)
  • V - Visual, Visible Light
  • W - Armament (not otherwise covered)
  • X - Facsimile or Television
  • Y - Data Processing or Computer
  • Z - Communications (NSA use only)

Third letter: purpose[edit]

  • A - Auxiliary Assembly
  • B - Bombing
  • C - Communications (Receiving/Transmitting, two way)
  • D - Direction Finder, Reconnaissance and Surveillance
  • E - Ejection and/or Release
  • G - Fire Control or Search Light Directing
  • H - Recording and/or Reproducing
  • K - Computing
  • L - no longer used (was Searchlight Control, now covered by "G")
  • M - Maintenance or Test Assemblies
  • N - Navigational Aids
  • P - no longer used (was Reproducing, now covered by "H")
  • Q - Special or Combination
  • R - Receiving or Passive Detecting
  • S - Detecting or Range and Bearing, Search
  • T - Transmitting
  • W - Automatic Flight or Remote Control
  • X - Identification and Recognition
  • Y - Surveillance (search, detect, and multiple target tracking) and Control (both fire control and/or air control)
  • Z - Secure (NSA use only)

Model number[edit]

Following the three-letter designation, after a dash, is a number, uniquely identifying the equipment. Different variants of the same equipment may be given an additional letter and other suffixes (for example, AN/SPY-1A, AN/SPY-1B, etc.), while entirely new equipment within the same category is given a new number (for example, AN/SPY-3).

Variants and training equipment[edit]

A suffix "(V)", parenthetical V, indicates variable components. A number may follow the parenthetical V to identify a specific configuration. Or the number will identify the precise quantity of equipment required for a specific configuration.

A suffix of "(P)", parenthetical P, indicates a plug in module or component of a system which changes the function, frequency, or characteristics.

A suffix of "(C)", parenthetical C, indicates NSA-controlled cryptographic/classified item.

A suffix of "-T", dash T, indicates equipment designed to provide training in the operation of a specific set.

For example:

AN/ABC-1(V)4 would be the 4th variable of the AN/ABC-1 equipment. OT-1957(V)1/ABC-1(V) would be one OT-1957 required for the particular configuration. AN/ABC-1(C) would be an NSA-controlled cryptographic/classified item. R00(P)/ABC-1 would be a plug in module for the AN/ABC-1 equipment. AN/ABC-1-T1 would be the first training set for the AN/ABC-1 equipment.


Subsystems ("groups") are designated by a two letter code (without the AN/ prefix), followed by a number, followed by slash and one, two or three letters from the three letter codes for systems. For example, BA-1234/PRC would be a battery for portable radio sets. Some subsystems will have the designation for the system they belong to. For example, RT-859/APX-72 and C-6820/APX-72, the /APX-72 indicates both are part of the AN/APX-72 system.


JETDS was adopted 16 February 1943 by the Joint Communications Board for all new Army and Navy airborne, radio, and radar equipment. Over time it was extended to cover the Marine Corps and the Navy's ship, submarine, amphibious, and ground electronic equipment. When the Air Force was established as a separate department, it continued the use of the system for electronic equipment. JETDS was adopted by the United States Coast Guard in 1950, Canada in 1951 and the NSA in 1959 (though the NSA continued to use its own TSEC telecommunications security nomenclature[1]). In 1957 the U.S. Department of Defense approved a military standard for the nomenclature, MIL-STD-196. The system has been modified over time, with some types (e.g. carrier pigeon -B-) dropped and others (e.g. computers and cryptographic equipment) added. The latest version, MIL-STD-196F, was issued in 2013.

MIL-STD-196 Rev. History
Revision Date
Original 9 May 1957
A 16 September 1960
B 7 April 1965
C 22 April 1971
D 19 January 1985
E 17 February 1998
F 11 September 2013

See also[edit]


  • The US government's BINCS database currently assignes CAGE code 80058 to JETDS items.
  • The US government's system for input of Form DD-61 Request for Nomenclature is the Joint Electronic Type Designation Automated System (JETDAS).

External links[edit]