International Radiotelephony Spelling Alphabet

Sometimes it is difficult to get a message across the circuit correctly and you need to resort to spelling the words of the message. This is where the ‘International Radiotelephony Spelling Alphabet’ comes in. This alphabet was originally used by the International Civil Aeronautical Organization (ICAO) and called the ICAO Phonetic Alphabet. It used standard words and pronunciations of those words to allow airplane pilots and air traffic control operators from around the world to understand each other. The alphabet has since been adopted by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) where it is called the NATO Phonetic Alphabet, by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), and by the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) as well as several other international organizations.

The alphabet covers the twenty-six letters of the English alphabet and the numbers from one to zero. Most of the letters and numbers are pronounced as in common English usage, however, some are distinctly different. It is important to pronounce all of the letters and numbers in the specified manner in order to insure maximum understanding.  The syllables in boldface type are emphasized in the pronunciation of the code word.

Letter         Code Word               Pronunciation

A                  Alfa                          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                    Juliett                        JEW-LEE-ETT

K                   Kilo                           KEY-LOH

L                    Lima                          LEE-MAH

M                   Mike                         MIKE

N                    November               NO-VEM-BER

O                    Oscar                        OS-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                  Xray                              ECKS-RAY

Y                   Yankee                         YANG-KEY

Z                   Zulu                              ZOO-LOO

1                    one                                WUN

2                    two                                TOO

3                    three                              TREE

4                    four                                 FOW-ER

5                    five                                  FIFE

6                    six                                    SIX

7                    seven                              SEV-EN

8                    eight                               AIT

9                    nine                                NINE-ER

0                    zero                                ZEE-RO