NATO phonetic alphabet
The International Radiotelephony Spelling Alphabet, commonly known as the NATO phonetic alphabet, NATO spelling alphabet, ICAO phonetic alphabet or ICAO spelling alphabet, is the most widely used radiotelephone spelling alphabet. The ITU phonetic alphabet and figure code is a rarely used variant that differs in the code words for digits.
To create the code, a series of international agencies assigned 26 code words acrophonically to the letters of the English alphabet, so that the names for letters and numbers would be distinct enough to be easily understood by those who exchanged voice messages by radio or telephone, regardless of language differences or the quality of the connection. The specific code words varied, as some seemingly distinct words were found to ineffective in real-life conditions. In 1956, NATO modified the then-current set of code words used by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO); this modification then became the international standard when it was accepted by the ICAO that year and by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) a few years later. The words were chosen to be accessible to speakers of French and Spanish in addition to English; the spellings of a couple code words were changed to facilitate their use.
Spelling alphabets are often inaccurately called "phonetic alphabets", but they do not indicate phonetics and cannot function as phonetic transcription systems like the International Phonetic Alphabet.
The 26 code words are as follows: Alfa, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot, Golf, Hotel, India, Juliett, Kilo, Lima, Mike, November, Oscar, Papa, Quebec, Romeo, Sierra, Tango, Uniform, Victor, Whiskey, X-ray, Yankee, Zulu. Numbers are read off as English digits, but the pronunciations of three, four, five, nine and thousand are modified.
Strict adherence to the prescribed spellings—including the apparently misspelled "Alfa" and "Juliett"—is required in order to avoid the problems of confusion that the code is designed to overcome. A 1955 NATO memo stated that:
It is known that [the spelling alphabet] has been prepared only after the most exhaustive tests on a scientific basis by several nations. One of the firmest conclusions reached was that it was not practical to make an isolated change to clear confusion between one pair of letters. To change one word involves reconsideration of the whole alphabet to ensure that the change proposed to clear one confusion does not itself introduce others.
After the phonetic alphabet was developed by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) (see history below) it was adopted by many other international and national organizations, including the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the United States Federal Government (as Federal Standard 1037C: Glossary of Telecommunications Terms, and its successors ANSI T1.523-2001 and ATIS Telecom Glossary (ATIS-0100523.2019), (using English spellings of Alfa and Juliett), the United States Department of Defense (using standard spellings), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU), the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International (APCO); and by many military organizations such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the now-defunct Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO).
The same alphabetic code words are used by all agencies, but each agency chooses one of two different sets of numeric code words. NATO uses the regular English numeric words (Zero, One, with some alternative pronunciations), whereas the ITU (beginning on 1 April 1969) and the IMO define compound numeric words (Nadazero, Unaone, Bissotwo…). In practice these are used very rarely, as they frequently result in confusion between speakers of different languages.
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A spelling alphabet is used to spell parts of a message containing letters and numbers to avoid confusion, because many letters sound similar, for instance "n" and "m" or "f" and "s"; the potential for confusion increases if static or other interference is present. For instance the message "proceed to map grid DH98" could be transmitted as "proceed to map grid Delta-Hotel-Niner-Ait". Using "Delta" instead of "D" avoids confusion between "DH98" and "BH98" or "TH98". The unusual pronunciation of certain numbers was designed to reduce confusion as well.
In addition to the traditional military usage, civilian industry uses the alphabet to avoid similar problems in the transmission of messages by telephone systems. For example, it is often used in the retail industry where customer or site details are spoken by telephone (to authorize a credit agreement or confirm stock codes), although ad-hoc coding is often used in that instance. It has been used often by information technology workers to communicate serial or reference codes (which are often very long) or other specialised information by voice. Most major airlines use the alphabet to communicate passenger name records (PNRs) internally, and in some cases, with customers. It is often used in a medical context as well, to avoid confusion when transmitting information.
Several letter codes and abbreviations using the spelling alphabet have become well-known, such as Bravo Zulu (letter code BZ) for "well done", Checkpoint Charlie (Checkpoint C) in Berlin, and Zulu Time for Greenwich Mean Time or Coordinated Universal Time. During the Vietnam War, the U.S. government referred to the Viet Cong guerrillas and the group itself as VC, or Victor Charlie; the name "Charlie" became synonymous with this force.
Pronunciation of code words
The final choice of code words for the letters of the alphabet and for the digits was made after hundreds of thousands of comprehension tests involving 31 nationalities. The qualifying feature was the likelihood of a code word being understood in the context of others. For example, football has a higher chance of being understood than foxtrot in isolation, but foxtrot is superior in extended communication.
The pronunciation of the code words varies according to the language habits of the speaker. To eliminate wide variations in pronunciation, recordings and posters illustrating the pronunciation desired by the ICAO are available. However, there are still differences in pronunciation between the ICAO and other agencies, and the ICAO has conflicting Latin-alphabet and International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) transcriptions. Also, although all codes for the letters of the alphabet are English words, they are not in general given English pronunciations.
Pronunciations are somewhat uncertain because the agencies, while ostensibly using the same pronunciations, give different transcriptions, which are often inconsistent from letter to letter. The ICAO gives a different pronunciation for IPA transcription and for respelling, and the FAA also gives different pronunciations depending on the publication consulted, the FAA Aeronautical Information Manual (§ 4-2-7), the FAA Flight Services manual (§ 14.1.5), or the ATC manual (§ 2-4-16). The Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS) gives English spellings, but does not give pronunciations or numbers. The ICAO, NATO, and FAA use modifications of English numerals, with stress on one syllable, while the ITU and IMO compound pseudo-Latinate numerals with a slightly different set of modified English numerals, and with stress on each syllable. Numbers 10–99 are spelled out (that is, 17 is spoken "one seven" and 60 is spoken "six zero"), while for hundreds and thousands the English words hundred and thousand are used.
The pronunciation of the digits 3, 4, 5, and 9 differs from standard English – being pronounced tree, fower, fife, and niner. The digit 3 is specified as tree so that it is not pronounced sri; the long pronunciation of 4 (still found in some English dialects) keeps it somewhat distinct from for; 5 is pronounced with a second "f" because the normal pronunciation with a "v" is easily confused with "fire" (a command to shoot); and 9 has an extra syllable to keep it distinct from German nein 'no'.
Only the ICAO prescribes pronunciation with the IPA, and then only for letters. Several of the pronunciations indicated are slightly modified from their normal English pronunciations: [ˈælfa, ˈbraːˈvo, ˈdeltɑ, ɡʌlf, ˈliːmɑ, ˈɔskɑ, siˈerɑ, ˈtænɡo, ˈuːnifɔrm, ˈviktɑ, ˈjænki], partially due to the substitution of final schwas with the [ɑ] vowel. Both the IPA and respelled pronunciations were developed by the ICAO before 1956 with advice from the governments of both the United States and United Kingdom, so the pronunciations of both General American English and British Received Pronunciation are evident, especially in the rhotic and non-rhotic accents. The respelled version is usually at least consistent with a rhotic accent ('r' pronounced), as in CHAR LEE, SHAR LEE, NO VEM BER, YOU NEE FORM, and OO NEE FORM, but an orthographic 'r' can also specify the quality of the vowel. The IPA version usually specifies a non-rhotic accent ('r' pronounced only before a vowel), as in [ˈtʃɑːli], [ˈʃɑːli], [noˈvembə], and [ˈjuːnifɔːm]. Inconsistencies are OSS CAH, VIK TAH and ˈuːnifɔrm. The IPA form of Golf implies it is pronounced gulf, which is neither General American English nor British Received Pronunciation. Different agencies assign different stress patterns to Bravo, Hotel, Juliett, November, Papa, X-ray; the ICAO even has different stresses for Bravo, Juliett, X-ray in its respelled and IPA transcriptions. Furthermore, the pronunciation prescribed for whiskey begins the voiced [w], although some speakers use the voiceless [ʍ] here, particularly in Scotland and Ireland (wine–whine distinction).
In addition, the ITU and IMO specify a different set of numeral words than does the ICAO. The ITU/IMO words are compounds combining the English numeral with either a Spanish or Latin prefix. However, as of 2002, the IMO's GMDSS procedures permit the use of the ICAO numeral pronunciation.
|Symbol||Code word||Conflicting accounts of the pronunciation|
|ICAO 2008 respelling||ITU-R 2007 (WRC-07) respelling||IMO English
|1957 U.S. Navy respelling||NATO & U.S. Army respelling||Average|
|A||Alfa||ˈælfa||AL FAH||AL FAH (AL FAH)||ALFAH||al fah||AL fåh||AL fah||ˈælfɑ|
|B||Bravo||ˈbraːˈvo||BRAH VOH||BRAH VOH (BRA VO)||BRAHVOH||bra vo||BRÄH VŌH||BRAH voh||ˈbrɑ(ˈ)vo|
|CHAR LEE or SHAR LEE||CHAR LEE (or SHAR LEE)
TCHAH LI (ou CHAR LI)
|CHÄR LĒĔ [sic]||CHAR lee||ˈ(t)ʃɑli|
|D||Delta||ˈdeltɑ||DELL TAH||DELL TAH (DEL TAH)||DELLTAH||del tah||DĔLL tåh||DEL tah||ˈdɛltɑ|
|E||Echo||ˈeko||ECK OH||ECK OH (EK O)||ECKOH||èk o||ĔCK ōh||EKK oh||ˈɛko|
|F||Foxtrot||ˈfɔkstrɔt||FOKS TROT||FOKS TROT FOX TROTT||FOKSTROT||fox trott||FŎKS trŏt||FOKS trot||ˈfɔkstrɔt|
|H||Hotel||hoːˈtel||HO TELL||HOH TELL||HOH TELL (HO TÈLL)||HOHTELL||ho tèll||hōh TĔLL||HO tell||hoˈtɛl|
|I||India||ˈindi.ɑ||IN DEE AH||IN DEE AH (IN DI AH)||INDEE AH||in di ah||ÏN dēē åh [sic]||IN dee ah||ˈɪndiɑ|
|J||Juliett||ˈdʒuːli.ˈet||JEW LEE ETT||JEW LEE ETT (DJOU LI ÈTT)||JEWLEE ETT||djou li ètt||JEW lēē ĔTT||JEW lee ett||ˈdʒuli(ˈ)ɛt|
|K||Kilo||ˈkiːlo||KEY LOH||KEY LOH (KI LO)||KEYLOH||ki lo||KĒY lōh||KEY loh||ˈkilo|
|L||Lima||ˈliːmɑ||LEE MAH||LEE MAH (LI MAH)||LEEMAH||li mah||LĒĒ måh||LEE mah||ˈlimɑ|
|M||Mike||mɑik||MIKE||MIKE (MA ÏK)||MIKE||maïk||MĪKE||Mike||ˈmaɪk|
|N||November||noˈvembə||NO VEM BER||NO VEM BER (NO VÈMM BER)||NOVEMBER||no vèmm ber||nō VĔM bēr [sic]||NOH vem ber||noˈvɛmbə|
|O||Oscar||ˈɔskɑ||OSS CAH||OSS CAH (OSS KAR)||OSSCAH||oss kar||ŎSS cåh||OSS car||ˈɔskɑ|
|P||Papa||pəˈpɑ||PAH PAH||PAH PAH (PAH PAH)||PAHPAH||pah pah||påh PÄH||PAH pah||pɑˈpɑ|
|Q||Quebec||keˈbek||KEH BECK||KEH BECK (KÉ BÈK)||KEHBECK||ké bèk||kēh BĒCK [sic]||keh BECK||keˈbɛk|
|R||Romeo||ˈroːmi.o||ROW ME OH||ROW ME OH (RO MI O)||ROWME OH||ro mi o||ROW mē ōh||ROW me oh||ˈromio|
|S||Sierra||siˈerɑ||SEE AIR RAH||SEE AIR RAH (SI ÈR RAH)||SEEAIRAH||si èr rah||sēē ÄIRråh||see AIR ah||siˈɛrɑ|
|T||Tango||ˈtænɡo||TANG GO||TANG GO (TANG GO)||TANGGO||tang go||TĂNG gō||TANG go||ˈtæŋɡo|
|YOU NEE FORM or OO NEE FORM||YOU NEE FORM (or OO NEE FORM)
YOU NI FORM (ou OU NI FORM)
|you ni form,
ou ni form
|YOU nēē fôrm||YOU nee form||ˈ(j)unifɔm|
|V||Victor||ˈviktɑ||VIK TAH||VIK TAH (VIK TAR)||VIKTAH||vik tar||VĬK tåh||VIK ter||ˈvɪktɑ|
|W||Whiskey||ˈwiski||WISS KEY||WISS KEY (OUISS KI)||WISSKEY||ouiss ki||WĬSS kēy||WISS key||ˈwɪski|
|X||X-ray||ˈeksˈrei||ECKS RAY||ECKS RAY||ECKS RAY (ÈKSS RÉ)||ECKSRAY [sic]||èkss ré||ĔCKS rāy||EKS ray||ˈɛks(ˈ)re|
|Y||Yankee||ˈjænki||YANG KEY||YANG KEY (YANG KI)||YANGKEY [sic]||yang ki||YĂNG KĒY [sic]||YANG kee||ˈjæŋki|
|Z||Zulu||ˈzuːluː||ZOO LOO||ZOO LOO (ZOU LOU)||ZOOLOO||zou lou||ZŌŌ lōō||ZOO luu||ˈzulu|
|0||Zero, nadazero||ZE-RO||NAH-DAH-ZAY-ROH||NAH-DAH-ZAY-ROH (NA-DA-ZE-RO)||ZE-RO / ZEE-RO||zi ro||Zero||ZE-RO||ˈnɑˈdɑˈzeˈro, ˈziˈro|
|1||One, unaone||WUN||OO-NAH-WUN||OO-NAH-WUN (OUNA-OUANN)||WUN||ouann||Wun||WUN
|2||Two, bissotwo||TOO||BEES-SOH-TOO||BEES-SOH-TOO (BIS-SO-TOU)||TOO||tou||Too||TOO||(ˈbiˈso)ˈtu|
|3||Three, terrathree||TREE||TAY-RAH-TREE||TAY-RAH-TREE (TÉ-RA-TRI)||TREE||tri||Thuh-ree||TREE||(ˈteˈrɑ)ˈtri|
|4||Four, kartefour||FOW-er||KAR-TAY-FOWER||KAR-TAY-FOWER (KAR-TÉ-FO-EUR)||FOW-ER||fo eur||Fo-wer||FOW-ER||(ˈkɑrˈte)ˈfoə|
|5||Five, pantafive||FIFE||PAN-TAH-FIVE||PAN-TAH-FIVE (PANN-TA-FAIF)||FIFE||fa ïf||Fi-yiv||FIFE||(ˈpænˈtɑ)ˈfaɪf|
|6||Six, soxisix||SIX||SOK-SEE-SIX||SOK-SEE-SIX (SO-XI-SICKS)||SIX||siks||Six||SIX||(ˈsɔkˈsi)ˈsɪks|
|7||Seven, setteseven||SEV-en||SAY-TAY-SEVEN||SAY-TAY-SEVEN (SÉT-TÉ-SEV'N)||SEV-EN||sèv n||Seven||SEV-EN||(ˈseˈte)ˈsɛvən|
|8||Eight, oktoeight||AIT||OK-TOH-AIT||OK-TOH-AIT (OK-TO-EIT)||AIT||eït||Ate||AIT||(ˈɔkˈto)ˈet|
|9||Nine, novenine||NIN-er||NO-VAY-NINER||NO-VAY-NINER (NO-VÉ-NAI-NEU)||NIN-ER||naï neu||Niner||NIN-ER||(ˈnoˈve)ˈnaɪnə|
|. (decimal point)||Decimal, point||DAY-SEE-MAL||DAY-SEE-MAL (DÉ-SI-MAL)||(point)||dè si mal||ˈdeˈsiˈmæl|
|- (hyphen)||Dash|
|. (full stop)||Stop||STOP||STOP (STOP)||ˈstɔp|
Prior to World War I and the development and widespread adoption of two-way radio that supported voice, telephone spelling alphabets were developed to improve communication on low-quality and long-distance telephone circuits.
The first non-military internationally recognized spelling alphabet was adopted by the CCIR (predecessor of the ITU) during 1927. The experience gained with that alphabet resulted in several changes being made during 1932 by the ITU. The resulting alphabet was adopted by the International Commission for Air Navigation, the predecessor of the ICAO, and was used for civil aviation until World War II. It continued to be used by the IMO until 1965.
Throughout World War II, many nations used their own versions of a spelling alphabet. The U.S. adopted the Joint Army/Navy radiotelephony alphabet during 1941 to standardize systems among all branches of its armed forces. The U.S. alphabet became known as Able Baker after the words for A and B. The Royal Air Force adopted one similar to the United States one during World War II as well. Other British forces adopted the RAF radio alphabet, which is similar to the phonetic alphabet used by the Royal Navy during World War I. At least two of the terms are sometimes still used by UK civilians to spell words over the phone, namely F for Freddie and S for Sugar.
To enable the U.S., UK, and Australian armed forces to communicate during joint operations, in 1943 the CCB (Combined Communications Board; the combination of US and UK upper military commands) modified the U.S. military's Joint Army/Navy alphabet for use by all three nations, with the result being called the US-UK spelling alphabet. It was defined in one or more of CCBP-1: Combined Amphibious Communications Instructions, CCBP3: Combined Radiotelephone (R/T) Procedure, and CCBP-7: Combined Communication Instructions. The CCB alphabet itself was based on the U.S. Joint Army/Navy spelling alphabet. The CCBP (Combined Communications Board Publications) documents contain material formerly published in U.S. Army Field Manuals in the 24-series. Several of these documents had revisions, and were renamed. For instance, CCBP3-2 was the second edition of CCBP3.
During World War II, the U.S. military conducted significant research into spelling alphabets. Major F. D. Handy, directorate of Communications in the Army Air Force (and a member of the working committee of the Combined Communications Board), enlisted the help of Harvard University's Psycho-Acoustic Laboratory, asking them to determine the most successful word for each letter when using "military interphones in the intense noise encountered in modern warfare.". He included lists from the US, Royal Air Force, Royal Navy, British Army, AT&T, Western Union, RCA Communications, and that of the International Telecommunications Convention. According to a report on the subject:
The results showed that many of the words in the military lists had a low level of intelligibility, but that most of the deficiencies could be remedied by the judicious selection of words from the commercial codes and those tested by the laboratory. In a few instances where none of the 250 words could be regarded as especially satisfactory, it was believed possible to discover suitable replacements. Other words were tested and the most intelligible ones were compared with the more desirable lists. A final NDRC list was assembled and recommended to the CCB.
After World War II, with many aircraft and ground personnel from the allied armed forces, "Able Baker" was officially adopted for use in international aviation. During the 1946 Second Session of the ICAO Communications Division, the organization adopted the so-called "Able Baker" alphabet that was the 1943 US–UK spelling alphabet. But many sounds were unique to English, so an alternative "Ana Brazil" alphabet was used in Latin America. But the International Air Transport Association (IATA), recognizing the need for a single universal alphabet, presented a draft alphabet to the ICAO during 1947 that had sounds common to English, French, Spanish and Portuguese.
From 1948 to 1949, Jean-Paul Vinay, a professor of linguistics at the Université de Montréal worked closely with the ICAO to research and develop a new spelling alphabet. ICAO's directions to him were that "To be considered, a word must:
- Be a live word in each of the three working languages.
- Be easily pronounced and recognized by airmen of all languages.
- Have good radio transmission and readability characteristics.
- Have a similar spelling in at least English, French, and Spanish, and the initial letter must be the letter the word identifies.
- Be free from any association with objectionable meanings."
After further study and modification by each approving body, the revised alphabet was adopted on 1 November 1951, to become effective on 1 April 1952 for civil aviation (but it may not have been adopted by any military).
Problems were soon found with this list. Some users believed that they were so severe that they reverted to the old "Able Baker" alphabet. Confusion among words like Delta and Extra, and between Nectar and Victor, or the unintelligibility of other words during poor receiving conditions were the main problems. Later in 1952, ICAO decided to revisit the alphabet and their research. To identify the deficiencies of the new alphabet, testing was conducted among speakers from 31 nations, principally by the governments of the United Kingdom and the United States. In the United States, the research was conducted by the USAF-directed Operational Applications Laboratory (AFCRC, ARDC), to monitor a project with the Research Foundation of The Ohio State University. Among the more interesting of the research findings was that "higher noise levels do not create confusion, but do intensify those confusions already inherent between the words in question".
By early 1956 the ICAO was nearly complete with this research, and published the new official phonetic alphabet in order to account for discrepancies that might arise in communications as a result of multiple alphabet naming systems coexisting in different places and organizations. NATO was in the process of adopting the ICAO spelling alphabet, and apparently felt enough urgency that it adopted the proposed new alphabet with changes based on NATO's own research, to become effective on 1 January 1956, but quickly issued a new directive on 1 March 1956 adopting the now official ICAO spelling alphabet, which had changed by one word (November) from NATO's earlier request to ICAO to modify a few words based on U.S. Air Force research.
After all of the above study, only the five words representing the letters C, M, N, U, and X were replaced. The ICAO sent a recording of the new Radiotelephony Spelling Alphabet to all member states in November 1955. The final version given in the table above was implemented by the ICAO on 1 March 1956, and the ITU adopted it no later than 1959 when they mandated its usage via their official publication, Radio Regulations. Because the ITU governs all international radio communications, it was also adopted by most radio operators, whether military, civilian, or amateur. It was finally adopted by the IMO in 1965. During 1947 the ITU adopted the compound number words (Nadazero, Unaone, etc.), later adopted by the IMO during 1965.
In the official version of the alphabet, the non-English spellings Alfa and Juliett are used. Alfa is spelled with an f as it is in most European languages because the English and French spelling alpha would not be pronounced properly by native speakers of some other languages – who may not know that ph should be pronounced as f. Juliett is spelled with a tt for French speakers, because they may otherwise treat a single final t as silent. Some published versions incorrectly list "alpha" and "juliet" – presumably because of the use of spell checker software – but those spellings are never correct and should be changed back to "alfa" and "juliett" wherever such mistakes are found.
Defined by various international conventions on radio, including:
- Universal Electrical Communications Union (UECU), Washington, D.C., December 1920
- International Radiotelegraph Convention, Washington, 1927 (which created the CCIR)
- General Radiocommunication and Additional Regulations (Madrid, 1932)
- Instructions for the International Telephone Service, 1932 (ITU-T E.141; withdrawn in 1993)
- General Radiocommunication Regulations and Additional Radiocommunication Regulations (Cairo, 1938)
- Radio Regulations and Additional Radio Regulations (Atlantic City, 1947), where "it was decided that the International Civil Aviation Organization and other international aeronautical organizations would assume the responsibility for procedures and regulations related to aeronautical communication. However, ITU would continue to maintain general procedures regarding distress signals."
- 1959 Administrative Radio Conference (Geneva, 1959)
- International Telecommunication Union, Radio
- Final Acts of WARC-79 (Geneva, 1979). Here the alphabet was formally named "Phonetic Alphabet and Figure Code".
- International Code of Signals for Visual, Sound, and Radio Communications, United States Edition, 1969 (Revised 2003)
|Letter||1920 UECU||1927 (Washington, D.C.) International Radiotelegraph Convention (CCIR)||1932 General Radiocommunication and Additional Regulations (CCIR/ICAN)||1938 (Cairo) International Radiocommunication Conference code words||1947 (Atlantic City) International Radio Conference||1947 ICAO (from 1943 US–UK)||1947 ICAO alphabet (from ARRL)||1947 ICAO Latin America/Caribbean||1947 IATA proposal to ICAO||1949 ICAO code words||1951 ICAO code words||1956 ICAO final code words||1959 (Geneva) ITU Administrative Radio Conference code words||1959 ITU respelling||2008 – present ICAO code words||2008 – present ICAO respelling|
|A||Argentine||Amsterdam||Amsterdam||Amsterdam||Amsterdam||ABLE||ADAM||ANA||ALFA||Alfa||Alfa||Alfa||Alfa||AL FAH||Alfa||AL FAH|
|B||Brussels||Baltimore||Baltimore||Baltimore||Baltimore||BAKER||BAKER||BRAZIL||BETA||Beta||Bravo||Bravo||Bravo||BRAH VOH||Bravo||BRAH VOH|
|C||Canada||Canada||Casablanca||Casablanca||Casablanca||CHARLIE||CHARLIE||COCO||CHARLIE||Coca||Coca||Charlie||Charlie||CHAR LEE or SHAR LEE||Charlie||CHAR LEE or SHAR LEE|
|D||Damascus||Denmark||Danemark||Danemark||Danemark||DOG||DAVID||DADO||DELTA||Delta||Delta||Delta||Delta||DELL TAH||Delta||DELL TAH|
|E||Ecuador||Eddystone||Edison||Edison||Edison||EASY||EDWARD||ELSA||EDWARD||Echo||Echo||Echo||Echo||ECK OH||Echo||ECK OH|
|F||France||Francisco||Florida||Florida||Florida||FOX||FREDDIE||FIESTA||FOX||Foxtrot||Foxtrot||Foxtrot||Foxtrot||FOKS TROT||Foxtrot||FOKS TROT|
|H||Hanover||Hanover||Havana||Havana||Havana||HOW||HARRY||HOMBRE||HAVANA||Hotel||Hotel||Hotel||Hotel||HOH TELL||Hotel||HO TELL|
|I||Italy||Italy||Italia||Italia||Italia||ITEM||IDA||INDIA||ITALY||India||India||India||India||IN DEE AH||India||IN DEE AH|
|J||Japan||Jerusalem||Jérusalem||Jérusalem||Jerusalem||JIG||JOHN||JULIO||JUPITER||Julietta||Juliett||Juliett||Juliett||JEW LEE ETT||Juliett||JEW LEE ETT|
|K||Khartoum||Kimberley||Kilogramme||Kilogramme||Kilogramme||KING||KING||KILO||KILO||Kilo||Kilo||Kilo||Kilo||KEY LOH||Kilo||KEY LOH|
|L||Lima||Liverpool||Liverpool||Liverpool||Liverpool||LOVE||LEWIS||LUIS||LITER||Lima||Lima||Lima||Lima||LEE MAH||Lima||LEE MAH|
|N||Nancy||Neufchatel||New York||New-York||New York||NAN||NANCY||NORMA||NORMA||Nectar||Nectar||November||November||NO VEM BER||November||NO VEM BER|
|O||Ostend||Ontario||Oslo||Oslo||Oslo||OBOE||OTTO||OPERA||OPERA||Oscar||Oscar||Oscar||Oscar||OSS CAH||Oscar||OSS CAH|
|P||Paris||Portugal||Paris||Paris||Paris||PETER||PETER||PERU||PERU||Polka||Papa||Papa||Papa||PAH PAH||Papa||PAH PAH|
|Q||Quebec||Quebec||Québec||Québec||Quebec||QUEEN||QUEEN||QUEBEC||QUEBEC||Quebec||Quebec||Quebec||Quebec||KEH BECK||Quebec||KEH BECK|
|R||Rome||Rivoli||Roma||Roma||Roma||ROGER||ROBERT||ROSA||ROGER||Romeo||Romeo||Romeo||Romeo||ROW ME OH||Romeo||ROW ME OH|
|S||Sardinia||Santiago||Santiago||Santiago||Santiago||SUGAR||SUSAN||SARA||SANTA||Sierra||Sierra||Sierra||Sierra||SEE AIR RAH||Sierra||SEE AIR RAH|
|T||Tokio||Tokio||Tripoli||Tripoli||Tripoli||TARE||THOMAS||TOMAS||THOMAS||Tango||Tango||Tango||Tango||TANG GO||Tango||TANG GO|
|U||Uruguay||Uruguay||Upsala||Upsala||Upsala||UNCLE||UNION||URUGUAY||URSULA||Union||Union||Uniform||Uniform||YOU NEE FORM or
OO NEE FORM
|Uniform||YOU NEE FORM or OO NEE FORM|
|V||Victoria||Victoria||Valencia||Valencia||Valencia||VICTOR||VICTOR||VICTOR||VICTOR||Victor||Victor||Victor||Victor||VIK TAH||Victor||VIK TAH|
|W||Washington||Washington||Washington||Washington||Washington||WILLIAM||WILLIAM||WHISKEY||WHISKEY||Whiskey||Whiskey||Whiskey||Whiskey||WISS KEY||Whiskey||WISS KEY|
|X||Xaintrie||Xantippe||Xanthippe||Xanthippe||Xanthippe||XRAY||X-RAY||EQUIS||X-RAY||?||eXtra||X-ray||X-ray||ECKS RAY||X-ray||ECKS RAY|
|Y||Yokohama||Yokohama||Yokohama||Yokohama||Yokohama||YOKE||YOUNG||YOLANDA||YORK||Yankey||Yankee||Yankee||Yankee||YANG KEY||Yankee||YANG KEY|
|Z||Zanzibar||Zululand||Zürich||Zurich||Zurich||ZEBRA||ZEBRA||ZETA||?||Zebra||Zulu||Zulu||Zulu||ZOO LOO||Zulu||ZOO LOO|
|0||Jérusalem[Note 1]||Jerusalem[Note 1]||Zero||Juliett[Note 1]||(alt. proposals: ZE-RO, ZERO)||zero||ZE-RO|
|1||Amsterdam[Note 1]||Amsterdam[Note 1]||Wun||Alfa[Note 1]||(alt. proposals: WUN, WUN)||one||WUN|
|2||Baltimore[Note 1]||Baltimore[Note 1]||Too||Bravo[Note 1]||(alt. proposals: TOO, BIS)||two||TOO|
|3||Casablanca[Note 1]||Casablanca[Note 1]||Thuh-ree||Charlie[Note 1]||(alt. proposals: TREE, TER)||three||TREE|
|4||Danemark[Note 1]||Danemark[Note 1]||Fo-wer||Delta[Note 1]||(alt. proposals: FOW-ER, QUARTO)||four||FOW-er|
|5||Edison[Note 1]||Edison[Note 1]||Fi-yiv||Echo[Note 1]||(alt. proposals: FIFE, PENTA)||five||FIFE|
|6||Florida[Note 1]||Florida[Note 1]||Six||Foxtrot[Note 1]||(alt. proposals: SIX, SAXO)||six||SIX|
|7||Gallipoli[Note 1]||Gallipoli[Note 1]||Seven||Golf[Note 1]||(alt. proposals: SEV-EN, SETTE)||seven||SEV-en|
|8||Havana[Note 1]||Havana[Note 1]||Ate||Hotel[Note 1]||(alt. proposals: AIT, OCTO)||eight||AIT|
|9||Italia[Note 1]||Italia[Note 1]||Niner||India[Note 1]||(alt. proposals: NIN-ER, NONA)||nine||NIN-er|
|. (decimal point)||(proposals: DAY-SEE-MAL, DECIMAL)||decimal||DAY-SEE-MAL|
|Thousand||(proposals: TOUS-AND, –)||thousand||TOU-SAND|
|,||Kilogramme[Note 1]||Kilogramme[Note 1]||Kilo[Note 1]|
|/ (fraction bar)||Liverpool[Note 1]||Liverpool[Note 1]||Lima[Note 1]|
|(break signal)||Madagascar[Note 1]||Madagascar[Note 1]||Mike[Note 1]|
|. (punctuation)||New-York[Note 1]||New York[Note 1]||November[Note 1]|
For the 1938 and 1947 phonetics, each transmission of figures is preceded and followed by the words "as a number" spoken twice.
Pronunciation was not defined prior to 1959. For the 1959 – present phonetics, the underlined syllable of each letter word should be emphasized, and each syllable of the code words for the figures (1969 – present) should be equally emphasized.
|Letter||1932 General Radiocommunication and Additional Regulations (CCIR/ICAN)||1946 ICAO Second Session of the Communications Division (same as Joint Army/Navy)||1947 ICAO (same as 1943 US-UK)||1947 ICAO alphabet (adopted exactly from ARRL||1947 ICAO Latin America/Caribbean||1949 ICAO code words||1951 ICAO code words||1956 – present ICAO code words|
|N||New York||Nan (later Nickel)||NAN||NANCY||NORMA||Nectar||Nectar||November|
International maritime mobile service
The ITU-R Radiotelephony Alphabet is used by the International Maritime Organization for international marine communications.
|Letter||1932–1965 IMO code words||1965 – present (WRC-03) IMO code words||1967 WARC code words||2000 – present IMO SMCP code words||1967 WARC respelling||2007 – present ITU-R respelling|
|A||Amsterdam||Alfa||Alfa||Alfa||AL FAH||AL FAH|
|B||Baltimore||Bravo||Bravo||Bravo||BRAH VOH||BRAH VOH|
|C||Casablanca||Charlie||Charlie||Charlie||CHAR LEE or SHAR LEE||CHAR LEE or SHAR LEE|
|D||Danemark||Delta||Delta||Delta||DELL TAH||DELL TAH|
|E||Edison||Echo||Echo||Echo||ECK OH||ECK OH|
|F||Florida||Foxtrot||Foxtrot||Foxtrot||FOKS TROT||FOKS TROT|
|H||Havana||Hotel||Hotel||Hotel||HOH TELL||HOH TELL|
|I||Italia||India||India||India||IN DEE AH||IN DEE AH|
|J||Jérusalem||Juliett||Juliett||Juliet||JEW LEE ETT||JEW LEE ETT|
|K||Kilogramme||Kilo||Kilo||Kilo||KEY LOH||KEY LOH|
|L||Liverpool||Lima||Lima||Lima||LEE MAH||LEE MAH|
|N||New-York||November||November||November||NO VEM BER||NO VEM BER|
|O||Oslo||Oscar||Oscar||Oscar||OSS CAH||OSS CAH|
|P||Paris||Papa||Papa||Papa||PAH PAH||PAH PAH|
|Q||Québec||Quebec||Quebec||Quebec||KEH BECK||KEH BECK|
|R||Roma||Romeo||Romeo||Romeo||ROW ME OH||ROW ME OH|
|S||Santiago||Sierra||Sierra||Sierra||SEE AIR RAH||SEE AIR RAH|
|T||Tripoli||Tango||Tango||Tango||TANG GO||TANG GO|
|U||Upsala||Uniform||Uniform||Uniform||YOU NEE FORM or
OO NEE FORM
|YOU NEE FORM or |
OO NEE FORM
|V||Valencia||Victor||Victor||Victor||VIK TAH||VIK TAH|
|W||Washington||Whisky||Whisky||Whisky||WISS KEY||WISS KEY|
|X||Xanthippe||X-ray||X-ray||X-ray||ECKS RAY||ECKS RAY|
|Y||Yokohama||Yankee||Yankee||Yankee||YANG KEY||YANG KEY|
|Z||Zurich||Zulu||Zulu||Zulu||ZOO LOO||ZOO LOO|
- "Delta" is replaced by "Data", "Dixie", or "David" at airports that have a majority of Delta Air Lines flights, such as at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, in order to avoid confusion because "Delta" is also Delta's callsign.
- "Lima" is replaced by the old RAF word "London" in Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore because "lima" means "five" in Indonesian, Malay and a number of other languages in those countries. Thus, confusion could occur if a string of mixed numerals and letters were being given.
- In Muslim countries, where alcohol is banned, the original ITU "Washington" or "White" replaces "Whiskey" for "W".
- In Pakistan, "Indigo" or "Italy" replaces "India" because of ongoing conflicts with India.
- International Code of Signals
- Spelling alphabet
- Allied military phonetic spelling alphabets
- APCO radiotelephony spelling alphabet
- Language-specific spelling alphabets
- Radiotelephony procedure
- Q code
- List of military time zones
- PGP word list
- Each sequence of figures is both preceded and followed by "as a number" (or, for punctuation only) "as a mark", spoken twice.
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- ITU 1967, pp. 177–179.
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- International Civil Aviation Organization, Aeronautical Telecommunications: Annex 10 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation, Volume II (Fifth edition, 1995), Chapter 5, 38–40.
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- The FAA table that shows stressed syllables has only the first pronunciation.
- Evidently a formatting error with the boldface. The second FAA table syllabifies these correctly as ECKS-RAY and YANG-KEY.
- The ICAO specifically mentions that all syllables in these words are to be equally stressed (§22.214.171.124.3 note)
- With the code words for the digits and decimal, each syllable is stressed equally.
- Only the second (English) component of each code word is used by the Aeronautical Mobile Service.
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- Written 'nine' in the examples, but pronunciation given as 'niner'
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- "FM 24-12,:Army Extract of Combined Operating Signals (CCBP 2-2)" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 1 December 2017.
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p) In alphanumeric call signs avoid phonetic letters that can be confused with another operator designator prefix e.g. D - Delta (The Airline).
- "NATO phonetic alphabet". Segen's Medical Dictionary. Farlex, Inc. 2012. Retrieved 27 June 2020.
|Look up ICAO spelling alphabet in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- "The Postal History of ICAO: Annex 10 - Aeronautical Telecommunications". ICAO. Archived from the original on 12 February 2019. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
- "NATO Declassified - The NATO Phonetic Alphabet". North Atlantic Treaty Organization.