Military Alphabet

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

Character Alphabet Pronunciation
A 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 Juliet Jew lee ett
K Kilo Key loh
L Lima Lee mah
M Mike Mike
N November No vem ber
O Oscar Oss cah
P Papa Pah pah
Q Quebec Keh beck
R Romeo Row me oh
S Sierra See air rah
T Tango Tang go
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

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.

Army Alphabet

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.