NATO reporting name
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NATO reporting names are code names for military equipment of Russia, China, and, historically, the former Eastern Bloc (Soviet Union and other nations of the Warsaw Pact). They provide unambiguous and easily understood English words in a uniform manner in place of the original designations, which either may have been unknown to the Western world at the time or easily confused codes. For example, the Russian bomber jet Tupolev Tu-160 is simply called Blackjack.
NATO maintains lists of the names. The assignment of the names for the Russian and Chinese aircraft was once managed by the five-nation Air Standardization Coordinating Committee (ASCC) (now called the Air and Space Interoperability Council, or ASIC, which includes representatives of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States), but that is no longer the case.
The United States Department of Defense (US DoD) expands on the NATO reporting names in some cases. NATO refers to surface-to-air missile systems mounted on ships or submarines with the same names as the corresponding land-based systems, but the US DoD assigns a different series of numbers with a different suffix (i.e., SA-N- vs. SA-) for these systems. The names are kept the same as a convenience. Where there is no corresponding system, a new name is devised.
The Soviet Union did not always assign official "popular names" to its aircraft, but unofficial nicknames were common as in any air force. Generally, Soviet pilots did not use the NATO names, preferring a different, Russian, nickname. An exception was that Soviet airmen appreciated the MiG-29's codename "Fulcrum", as an indication of its pivotal role in Soviet air defence.
To reduce the risk of confusion, unusual or made-up names were allocated, the idea being that the names chosen would be unlikely to occur in normal conversation, and be easier to memorise. For fixed-wing aircraft, single-syllable words denoted piston-prop and turboprop, while multiple-syllable words denoted jets. Bombers had names starting with the letter B and names like Badger (2 syllables: jet), Bear (single syllable: propeller), and Blackjack were used. "Frogfoot," the reporting name for the Sukhoi Su-25, references the aircraft's close air support role. Transports had names starting with C (as in "cargo"), which resulted in names like Condor or Candid.
Lists of NATO reporting names
The initial letter of the name indicated the use of that equipment.
- A—air-to-air missiles, example AA-2 Atoll: List of NATO reporting names for air-to-air missiles
- K—air-to-surface missiles (from the Russian Kh designation), example AS-17 Krypton: List of NATO reporting names for air-to-surface missiles
- G—surface-to-air missiles, SAM (or Ground-to-air), including ship- and submarine-launched, example SA-2 Guideline: List of NATO reporting names for surface-to-air missiles
- S—surface-to-surface missiles, including ship- and submarine-launched. Land-based missiles have the prefix SS-, for example the SS-1 Scud. Naval missiles receive the designation SS-N-, e.g. SS-N-2 Styx. Coastal defence missiles are assigned the prefix SS-C-, e.g. SS-C-5 Stooge: List of NATO reporting names for surface-to-surface missiles
- from this anti-tank missiles (also S), example AT-5 Spandrel: List of NATO reporting names for anti-tank missiles
The first letter indicates the type of aircraft, like Bear for a bomber aircraft, or Fulcrum for a fighter aircraft. A one syllable name refers to a propeller aircraft, a two syllable name to refers aircraft with jet engines.
- F—fighter aircraft, also later ground attack aircraft: List of NATO reporting names for fighter aircraft
- B—bomber aircraft: List of NATO reporting names for bomber aircraft
- C—commercial aircraft and airliners, and cargo aircraft: List of NATO reporting names for transport aircraft
- H—helicopters: List of NATO reporting names for helicopters
- M—Miscellaneous; trainers, reconnaissance, seaplanes, tankers, AEW etc.: List of NATO reporting names for miscellaneous aircraft
- "NATO Code Names for Submarines and Ships: Submarine Classes / Reporting Name". Art and Aerospace Page. Univ. of Michigan, UMCC / AIS. Retrieved 29 April 2011.
- Zuyev, A. and Malcolm McConnell. Fulcrum: A Top Gun Pilot's Escape from the Soviet Empire. Warner Books, 1993. ISBN 0-446-36498-3.