Do You Know Your NATO Alphabet?

 Do You Know Your NATO Alphabet?

For those that don’t know, I play a lot of Call of Duty in my spare time and I take it pretty seriously. Part of how serious the clan takes it is that we have to use the NATO alphabet, silly I know.

Another place I had to know it was when I worked in the parts department of a local repair garage. We needed to know the NATO alphabet for reading off the number plates of vehicles and different codes.

You will know how frustrating it can be when you’re on the phone with somebody and you’re trying to give your postcode. Some letters, over the phone, can be mistaken for other letters.

I remember when I was growing up I would hear my mum on the phone saying ‘P for pizza’. It took me a long time before I learnt that P is not for pizza but it worked for her.

In basic terms, it is an alphabet system that replaces letters with words. It was first used by the military as a way to clearly communicate over the static and other loud noises around them.

Note: While “Alpha” is the typical English spelling, “Alfa” is considered the international spelling, as the “ph” sounds is not recognized globally.


1 Comment

  • If you don’t have hours to spend to learn Morse Code, there’s an easier (but slower) code called Tap Code, which you can learn in a minute or two, as many soldiers have. You can send messages by flashing a mirror or piece of glass or even aluminum foil to reflect sunlight to someone in the distance, even miles away as long as they can see the flashes. Or flash a light at night. Or tap on a wall or even blink, any countable signals. To send the letter of a word, first tap (or flash) through the letters A F L Q V, stopping at the one which is before the letter you want to send (or the same as it), then pause, then tap through the alphabet from that point. For example, to send the word “HELP”, you tap twice (A F), pause, tap three times (F G H) and the receiver writes down the H. Then you tap once (A), pause, then tap five times ( A B C D E) and he writes down the E. Then you tap three times (A F L), pause, and tap once (L) and he writes down the L. Finally you tap three times (A F L), pause, and tap five times (L M N O P) and he writes down the P. You can use X for a period and Q for a question mark. Use the letter C instead of K: asc. If you make a mistake and need to start a word over, tap eight times. Sometimes POWs have even blinked secret messages in Tap Code! It’s also called AFLQV code.

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