NATO reporting name

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NATO reporting names are classified code names for military equipment of the Eastern Bloc (Soviet Union and other nations of the Warsaw Pact and China). They provide unambiguous and easily understood English language words in a uniform manner in place of the original designations — which may have been unknown at the time or easily confused codes.

NATO maintains lists of these names and the assignment of the names for the Russian and Chinese aircraft is handled by the five-nation Air Standardization Coordinating Committee (ASCC) which consisted of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.


U.S. variations

The United States Department of Defense expands on the NATO reporting names in some cases. NATO refers to surface-to-air missile systems mounted on ships or submarines with the same names as the corresponding land-based systems, but the US DoD assigns a different series of numbers with a different suffix (i.e., SA-N- vs. SA-) for these systems. The names are kept the same as a convenience. Where there is no corresponding system, a new name is devised. Some US DoD nomenclature is included in the following pages and is noted as such.

Soviet nicknames

The Soviet Union did not always assign official “popular names” to its aircraft, although unofficial nicknames were common as in any air force. Generally the Soviet pilots have not used the NATO names, preferring a different Russian nickname. However, there have been exceptions. For example, Soviet airmen appreciated the MiG-29's codename 'Fulcrum' as an indication of its pivotal role in Russian air defence.[1] The Tu-95's codename 'Bear' has been widely adopted by its operators.[citation needed] Hundreds of names had to be chosen, so the names covered a wide variety of subjects and include some obscure words.


To reduce the risk of confusion, unusual or made-up names were allocated, the idea being the names chosen would be unlikely to occur in normal conversation, and be easier to memorise. Single syllable words denoted propeller-driven, while multiple syllables denoted jet-powered aircraft. The bombers had names starting with the letter B and names like Badger (2 syllables - jet), Bear (single syllable - propeller), and Blackjack were used. “Frogfoot,” the reporting name for the Sukhoi Su-25, references the aircraft’s close air support role. Transports had names starting with C (as in “cargo”), which resulted in names like Careless or Candid.

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