NATO Phonetic Alphabet

The NATO phonetic alphabet is a Spelling Alphabet, a set of words used instead of letters in oral communication (i.e. over the phone or military radio). Each word ("code word") stands for its initial letter (alphabetical "symbol"). The 26 code words in the NATO phonetic alphabet are assigned to the 26 letters of the English alphabet in alphabetical order as follows:

Symbol Code Word Phonic
(pronunciation)
A Alfa/Alpha AL FAH
B Bravo BRAH VOH
C Charlie CHAR LEE
D Delta DELL TAH
E Echo ECK OH
F Foxtrot FOKS TROT
G Golf GOLF
H Hotel HOH TELL
I India IN DEE AH
J Juliett JEW LEE ETT
K Kilo KEY LOH
L Lima LEE MAH
M Mike MIKE
N November NO VEMBER
O Oscar OSS CAH
P Papa PAH PAH
Q Quebec KEH BECK
R Romeo ROW ME OH
S Sierra SEE AIRRAH
T Tango TANG OH
U Uniform YOU NEE FORM
V Victor VIK TAH
W Whiskey WISS KEY
X X-ray ECKS RAY
Y Yankee YANG KEY
Z Zulu ZOO LOO

Notes

  • The NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) Phonetic Alphabet is currently officially denoted as the International Radiotelephony Spelling Alphabet (IRSA) or the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) phonetic alphabet or ITU (International Telecommunication Union) phonetic alphabet. Thus this alphabet can be reffered as the ICAO/ITU/NATO Phonetic Alphabet or International Phonetic Alphabet..
  • This alphabet is used by the U.S. military and has also been adopted by the FAA (American Federal Aviation Administration), ANSI (American National Standards Institute), and ARRL (American Radio Relay League).
  • Contrary to what its name suggests, the NATO Phonetic Alphabet is not a phonetic alphabet. Phonetic alphabets are used to indicate, through symbols or codes, what a speech sound or letter sounds like. The NATO Phonetic Alphabet is instead a spelling alphabet (also known as telephone alphabet, radio alphabet, word-spelling alphabet, or voice procedure alphabet).
  • Spelling alphabets, such as the NATO Phonetic Alphabet, consists of a set of words used to stand for alphabetical letters in oral communication. These are used to avoid misunderstanding due to difficult to spell words, different pronunciations or poor line communication.
  • A typical use of the NATO Phonetic Alphabet would be to spell out each letter in a word over the phone by saying, for example: "S as in Sierra" (or "S for Sierra"), "E as in Echo, Y as in Yankee, F as in Foxtrot, R as in Romeo, I as in India, E as in Echo, D as in Delta" to communicate the spelling of the name "Seyfried" correctly.

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