NATO Alphabet

The NATO Alphabet, sometimes referred to as Alpha Bravo Charlie, was originally developed by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and has been adopted by various aviation, maritime and communication organizations as well as the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization).

The NATO Alphabet is a spelling alphabet in which code words have been acrophonically assigned to the 26 letters of the English alphabet so that the name of a letter begins with the letter itself. The same applies to digits.

The idea behind this spelling alphabet is to avoid confusion when communicating a message over telephone and radio, when there might transmission quality issues and the sender receivers may not speak their native language.

Nato Spelling Alphabet

Letter
Code Word
Recommended Transcription
Phonetic Notation
A Alfa *AL-fah[ˈælfɑː]
BBravoBRAH-voh[ˈbrɑːvoʊ]
CCharlie CHAR-lee or SHAR-lee[ˈtʃɑrliː] or[ˈʃɑrliː]
DDeltaDEL-tah [ˈdɛltɑː]
EEchoEK-oh [ˈɛkoʊ]
FFoxtrot FOKS-trot[ˈfɒkstrɒt]
GGolfGOLF[ˈɡɒlf]
HHotelhoh-TEL[hoʊˈtɛl]
IIndiaIN-dee-ah[ˈɪndiːɑː]
JJuliett *JEW-lee-et or JEW-lee-ET[ˈdʒuːliːɛt] or [ˌdʒuːliːˈɛt]
KKiloKEE-loh [ˈkiːloʊ]
LLimaLEE-mah[ˈliːmɑː]
MMikeMYK[ˈmaɪk]
NNovembernoh-VEM-bər [noʊˈvɛmbər]
OOscar OS-kah [ˈɒskɑː]
PPapapah-PAH[pɑːˈpɑː]
QQuebecke-BEK [kɛˈbɛk]
RRomeo ROH-mee-oh [ˈroʊmiːoʊ]
SSierrasee-ERR-ah[siːˈɛrɑː]
TTangoTANG-goh[ˈtæŋɡoʊ]
UUniformEW-nee-form or OO-nee-form[ˈjuːniːfɔrm] or [ˈuːniːfɔrm]
VVictorVIK-tah[ˈvɪktɑː]
WWhiskeyWIS-kee[ˈwɪskiː]
XX-ray EKS-ray or EKS-RAY[ˈɛksreɪ] or [ˌɛksˈreɪ]
YYankeeYANG-kee[ˈjæŋkiː]
ZZuluZOO-loo[ˈzuːluː]

*) Then non-English spellings Alfa and Juliett are used instead of Alpha and Juliet.

Pronunciation: Although most of the codes for the letters are English words, the pronunciation of the code words differs from standard English. Charlie can be either pronounced “char-lee” or “shar-lee”, and Uniform is either pronounced “you-nee-form” or “oo-nee-form”. Altered pronunciations also include Oscar which is pronounced “oss-cah” and Victor is “vik-tah”, both without the “r”. Papa loses the accent on the first syllable; instead the second syllable is stressed: “Pa-PAH” . Finally, Quebec takes on the French alteration “keh-beck”.

Digits of NATO Spelling Alphabet:

Digit
Code Word
Recommended Transcription
Phonetic Notation
0ZeroZEE-roh [ˈziːroʊ]
1OneWUN[ˈwʌn]
2TwoTOO[ˈtuː]
3ThreeTREE[ˈtriː]
4FourFOH-ər [ˈfoʊ.ər]
5FiveFYF[ˈfaɪf]
6SixSIKS[ˈsɪks]
7SevenSEV-en[ˈsɛvɛn]
8EightAYT[ˈeɪt]
9NineNY-nər[ˈnaɪnər]

Pronunciation: Note that the digits 3, 4, 5, and 9 are being pronounced as tree, fower, fife, and niner, different from English pronunciations.

The phonetic notations on this website are written according to International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) system.

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