Standard Phonetic Alphabets Used On Radio & Telephone

Using Phonetic Alphabets Helps Convey Information Accurately Over The Radio

When you are spelling out a name, location, code, registration number, postcode etc, over a noisy or faint radio or phone link, it is easy for letters and numbers to be misheard.

Using the phonetic alphabet to spell out names, locations and so on makes accurately understanding messages a lot easier, because many letters can be easily confused when heard over a crackly radio link (B, C, D, P, T and M, N and F, S, etc).

The "NATO" / ICAO / ITU Phonetic Alphabet / Army Alphabet / Police Alphabet

The standard "NATO" phonetic alphabet (actually the International Radio-Telephony Spelling Alphabet) is:

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 pronounced as normal, except often 9 is pronounced "Niner" so it doesn't get confused with 5.

It is called the "NATO" alphabet because it was standardised by the NATO member countries back in the 1950s to allow accurate exchange of radio messages between air, naval and army forces of all the NATO member nations.

They had to make sure that each chosen word sounded different to the others, and was easily pronounceable by speakers of all the European languages, not just English.

It is now very widely used by all types of "professional communicators" including air traffic control, police and emergency services, shipping, etc and in all types of business.

READ MORE ON THE NATO PHONETIC ALPHABET


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