Developed in 1950, the Military Alphabet was created to enable radio controllers to effectively communicate letters and numbers regardless of their native languages, with words that are easy to pronounce and remember
|I||India||In dee ah|
|J||Juliet||Jew lee ett|
|N||November||No vem ber|
|R||Romeo||Row me oh|
|S||Sierra||See air rah|
|U||Uniform||You nee form|
What is the Military Alphabet or Army Alphabet?
What we know as the military alphabet is actually officially called the International Radiotelephony Spelling Alphabet. Developed by the International Civil Aviation Organization in the 1950s, this pairing of letters and words was intended to improve the clarity and effectiveness of radio communications and prevent potentially catastrophic misunderstandings as to the whereabouts of planes.
The military alphabet, also sometimes called the Army alphabet, Navy alphabet, or Marine alphabet by members of those services, consists of a specially chosen code word for each of the letters in the English alphabet. The military alphabet code words were selected based on their distinctiveness and their low probability of being mistaken for another word in the context of a radio transmission. The ICAO tested the military alphabet code words hundreds of thousands of times with speakers from 31 different countries before deciding on the final list of words that would become the military alphabet.
Military Alphabet & Time Zones
The military alphabet is an important component of military time, because military time zones are designated by letters.
|Abbreviation||Full name||Time zone|
|A||Alpha Time Zone||UTC + 1 hour|
|B||Bravo Time Zone||UTC + 2 hours|
|C||Charlie Time Zone||UTC + 3 hours|
|D||Delta Time Zone||UTC + 4 hours|
|E||Echo Time Zone||UTC + 5 hours|
|F||Foxtrot Time Zone||UTC + 6 hours|
|G||Golf Time Zone||UTC + 7 hours|
|H||Hotel Time Zone||UTC + 8 hours|
|I||India Time Zone||UTC + 9 hours|
|K||Kilo Time Zone||UTC + 10 hours|
|L||Lima Time Zone||UTC + 11 hours|
|M||Mike Time Zone||UTC + 12 hours|
|N||November Time Zone||UTC - 1 hour|
|O||Oscar Time Zone||UTC - 2 hours|
|P||Papa Time Zone||UTC - 3 hours|
|Q||Quebec Time Zone||UTC - 4 hours|
|R||Romeo Time Zone||UTC - 5 hours|
|S||Sierra Time Zone||UTC - 6 hours|
|T||Tango Time Zone||UTC - 7 hours|
|U||Uniform Time Zone||UTC - 8 hours|
|V||Victor Time Zone||UTC - 9 hours|
|W||Whiskey Time Zone||UTC - 10 hours|
|X||X-ray Time Zone||UTC - 11 hours|
|Y||Yankee Time Zone||UTC - 12 hours|
|Z||Zulu Time Zone||UTC|
There is no “J” in the chart above, since J is used to indicate Local time. So for example, 1400J would be pronounced fourteen hundred Juliet and mean 2 PM local time.
Using the Military Alphabet Code Internationally
Many international organizations, including NATO, have adopted the Army alphabet for their radio and telephone communications. When used by non-English speakers, a few slight modifications must be made to the standard military alphabet chart. First of all, English spellings of “alpha” and “Juliet” must be changed to less ambiguous spellings “alfa” and “Juliett.” This ensures that non-English speakers will pronounce the “f” sound correctly in alpha and not drop the “t” in Juliet. An additional column with pronunciation guides for all the words may also be added.