Talk:1962 United States Tri-Service aircraft designation system

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Why is the A-12 not specifically mentioned in the Non-systematic aircraft designations section? It was not a ground attack aircraft in any way. Is the fact that it was operated by the CIA and not the USAF anything to do with it? Jason404 (talk) 00:42, 24 February 2009 (UTC)

A-12 was Lockheed's designation. It was used by the CIA, not DoD. So it does not fall under this system. -Fnlayson (talk) 00:49, 24 February 2009 (UTC)
A-12 in the sense of the Blackbird spyplane was not only used by the CIA instead of the DoD, but the design designation A-12 actually belongs to Lockheed Skunkworks. Internally the Blackbird Series of aircraft were developed from design # 12 of Kelly's Project Archangle, so the Blackbird diesign was Archangle #12 or A-12. (You can read all of this in the book Skunkworks by Ben Rich and Leo Janos —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:21, 21 December 2010 (UTC)

The A-12 in this system is the McDonnell Douglass/General Dynamics A-12 Avenger, the carrier based stealth bomber originally intended to replace the A-6 Intruder. The Lockheed A-12 was first flown in April 1962 while this system was introduced in mid September. Therefore the Lockheed A-12 would not fall under this designation system. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Aussieaviationnut (talkcontribs) 12:35, 11 June 2015 (UTC)

next Air Force One[edit]

If the next Air Force One aircraft is the Boeing 747-8, would it likely be called the VC-25B, or would they use a new number? I think I have seen when they use a newer model of an civil aircraft type already in use, they usually just add a letter to the military designation. --rogerd (talk) 21:29, 10 October 2011 (UTC)

They have used C-19 and C-33 for some 747 versions in the past. If they think the 747-8 is different enough and if enough AF people in power want it, they'll ask for the next C- number. Or not?? -Fnlayson (talk) 00:11, 11 October 2011 (UTC)
Politics often plays a role in whether or not a new designation number is chosen. The F/A-18E/F Super Hornet]] is a notable example of a largely new aircraft using the older number. I'm still waiting to see if the VC-25s will be replaced any time soon, given the VH-71 fiasco. - BilCat (talk) 02:32, 11 October 2011 (UTC)
Point well taken, I think they need a new helicopter more than a new airplane. --rogerd (talk) 04:37, 12 October 2011 (UTC)
Could be changed as there are a number of different numbers assigned to Gulfstream variants. Although the same cannot be said of C-12 variants based on later versions of the King Air. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Aussieaviationnut (talkcontribs) 12:49, 11 June 2015 (UTC)

Listing of aircraft in and out of compliance with the system[edit]

We can see a list of aircraft designations that were skipped over, and many of us are familiar with some of the prominent aircraft, like F-14 Tomcat, F-15 Eagle, F-16 Falcon, and F/A-18 Hornet, but not the F-17. Yes, I can look it up and see that Northrop YF-17 fits here, and maybe such a listing is unencyclopedic. But here's an example of my idea:

12 (disambiguation) • 3...
1 (disambiguation) • 2 (disambiguation) ... 141516YF-17F/A-18F-20 ...

Just a thought. D. F. Schmidt (talk) 15:20, 7 October 2014 (UTC)


I have changed the next available number for gliders to G-17 as the designation "TG-16A" has been used.[1]


  1. ^ "New aircraft soar into Academy". U.S. Air Force Academy Website. Retrieved 11 June 2015. 

Foreign Aircraft that Conform to this System[edit]

Considering that designations used for foreign sales that do not conform to the system (e.g. KC-767) but are used in foreign sales, should aircraft that conform to this system but are only used in foreign services (E-7A Wedgetail of the Royal Australian Air Force, KC-30A MRTT also in Australian service be included? Aussieaviationnut (talk) 13:08, 11 June 2015 (UTC)

This article is only for the US Tri-service designation system. E-7 and KC-30 are not US designations and are not relevant this article. The A330 MRTT/KC-30 tanker version initially selected by the USAF was designated KC-45 under this US designation system. -Fnlayson (talk) 13:45, 11 June 2015 (UTC)
(edit conflict) The 767 is unique in that it is actually an official designation under 3 separate designation systems:
  • the USAF did officially assign the designation KC-767 to the aircraft intended to be procured under the Commercial Derivative Air Refueling Aircraft program of the early 2000s.
  • Japan uses its own designation system which is similar though not identical to the US system, and assigns it own numbers. Some are sequential (F-1, F-2), while some are based on manufacturer numbers (T-400). In the case of the KC-767J, it likely would have been assigned that designation anyway (cf. E-767).
  • Italy officially uses the Italian Armed Forces aircraft designation system under the NATO designation system, which is basically the US system. In Italy's case, it usually assigns the numbers based on the manufacturer number (UH-101 based on AW101 number), so it would have assigned KC-767A anyway too.
  • Australia has been assigning its designations own designations lately, seemingly also based on the NATO system (though of course Australia isn't a NATO member). The E-7A and KC-30A are under this system.
Second, the US has officially assigned at least one foreign designation under its system, the T-50, a Korean aircraft not (at least yet) used by the US to avoid confusion with its own system.
So no, I wouldn't include the Australian designations here, as it is a different system, and the designations aren't officially assigned in the US system. - BilCat (talk) 13:53, 11 June 2015 (UTC)

Background / origin[edit]

The article does not mention why the tri-service designation system was introduced. I'we heard rumors that is was because confusion between Douglas F4D Skyray and McDonnell F4H Phantom II, but it could not be because of the merge between McDonnell Aircrat and Douglas Aircrat because that did not happen before 1967. Anyone know why? /Esquilo (talk) 15:48, 3 February 2017 (UTC)

From what I've read or gathered Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara ordered that the DoD designations be combined after he learned that the F-4 Phantom had different designations by the Navy/USMC and the Air Force previously. -Fnlayson (talk) 17:49, 3 February 2017 (UTC)