NATO Codification System

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The NATO Codification System (NCS for short) is a Standardization Agreement approach to identify, classify and number items of supply. This is applicable to items that are repetitively used and stocked (e.g., repair parts, equipment, food items, etc.). The System has been agreed by all signatories of the NATO and sponsored non-NATO nations for use in identifying equipment and supplies.[1] The result is a unique identification and a data set that can be easily shared and understood by a wide range of users. The data set may be shared in the form of printed catalogs, on line systems, electronic data exchange, etc. Users include logisticians and manufacturers.

The process of codification (or cataloging) involves naming, classifying, describing the item and assignment of a 13 digit NATO Stock Number (or NSN). The system aids logistics processes, to include supply, purchasing, maintenance, warehousing, transportation, planning, etc. Further, it allows different organizations, even countries, to cooperate in providing logistics support to military, disaster relief, peace keeping and similar operations.

NCS documents[edit]

Five NATO Standardisation Agreements (STANAGs) build the structural basis for the system:[1]

  • STANAG 3150: Codification-Uniform System of Supply Classification
  • STANAG 3151: Codification-Uniform System of Item of Supply Identification
  • STANAG 4177: Codification-Uniform System of Data Acquisition
  • STANAG 4199: Codification-Uniform System of Exchange of Materiel Management Data
  • STANAG 4438: Codification-Uniform System of Dissemination of Data Associated with NATO Stock Numbers(NSN)

NCS basics[edit]

Unambiguous item identification in accordance with the STANAG 3151 standard. This identification takes place by means of a NATO Stock Number (NSN), which is composed of a 4-digit NATO Supply Classification Code, a 2-digit code for the National Codification Bureau (NCB) representing the country which codifies the item and of a 7-digit non-significant number that is assigned by this NCB.

Uniform System of Supply Classification in accordance with STANAG 3150. All material is classified in material groups and classes with respect to its usage in logistics.

Uniform System of Item Names in accordance with the H6 manual (Item Name Directory). There are approximately 40,000 approved item names used, covering all types of material.

Item identification:

  • A descriptive item identification according to the Item Identification Guide (IIG) on the basis of material technical attributes specification.
  • A reference item identification on the basis of the manufacturer’s code, NCAGE, and of the manufacturer’s item identification number.

Item of supply[edit]

Item of supply is an item of production (part, article) which a responsible supply management authority has determined as being required to meet a specific logistics requirement. This part has to be defined in compliance with logistics needs (transport, usage, features, etc.) to meet all logistics requirements with the possibility of repeated usage. One item of supply may represent several items of production, for example made by various producers, which do not have to be distinguished between from the viewpoint of logistics requirements.