NATO phonetic alphabets are used in different areas of specialty aside aviation, don’t be surprised when you hear a doctor dictating “Alfa Charlie” or “Tango”. Though, the use of these speech clarification technique started in aviation.
The International Commission for Air Navigation now known as ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) began to use this concept after the ITU (International Telecommunication Union) started in 1927.
These alphabets were used in world war II until 1965 :
Amsterdam Baltimore Casablanca Denmark Edison Florida Gallipoli Havana Italia Jerusalem Kilogramme Liverpool Madagascar New_York Oslo Paris Quebec Roma Santiago Tripoli Upsala Valencia Washington Xanthippe Yokohama Zurich
These phonetic alphabetic code words are used by all agencies with few different sets of numeric code words. English numeric words are used by NATO, ITU and IMO adopted compound numeric words (Nadazero, Unaone, Bissotwo…) since April 1969.The U.S. alphabet was tagged “ABLE BAKKER” for its A and B words, in 1943 the UK adopted RAF alphabet which was identical to the U.S. Joint-Army-Navy (JAN). The usage of “Able Baker” continued after World War II and an alternative “Ana Brazil” was used in Latin America.
IATA(International Air Transport Association), submitted a draft to ICAO in 1947 after realized the essence of universal alphabet. The newly drafted alphabet had common sounds with to Spanish, English and French. Civil Aviation began to use this new alphabet in November 1951.
Alfa Bravo Coca Delta Echo Foxtrot Golf Hotel India Juliett Kilo Lima Metro Nectar Oscar Papa Quebec Romeo Sierra Tango Union Victor Whisky Extra Yankee Zulu
Some users had gone back to the old “Alpha Baker” alphabet because they found the newly adopted alphabet uneasy, which was an issue for IATA listing. So, tests were conducted among speakers from different nations to pin-point which words weren’t user friendly. On 1st March 1956, the final version was implemented by ICAO after only five words “C,M,N,U and X” had been changed. ITU also adopted it in 1959. IMO joined in 1965 after all, civil or military had taken it.
|A||Alfa (ICAO, ITU, IMO, FAA)
|C||Charlie||CHAR LEE or
|H||Hotel||HO TELL (ICAO)
HOH TELL (ITU, IMO, FAA)
|I||India||IN DEE AH|
|J||Juliett (ICAO, ITU, IMO, FAA)
|JEW LEE ETT|
|N||November||NO VEM BER|
|R||Romeo||ROW ME OH|
|S||Sierra||SEE AIR RAH (ICAO, ITU, IMO)
SEE AIR AH (FAA)
|U||Uniform||YOU NEE FORM or
OO NEE FORM
|ECKS RAY (ICAO, ITU)
ECKS RAY (IMO, FAA)