NATO reporting name
NATO reporting names are unclassified 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. Much of this so-named equipment remains in use, and NATO reporting names are frequently used.
NATO maintained lists of these names. 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.
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.
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. The Tu-95's codename 'Bear' has been widely adopted by its operators. 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 propellor-driven, whilst 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 - propellor), 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.
The author Craig Thomas created a fictional NATO reporting name "Firefox" for the MiG-31 in his novel Firefox in 1977, probably in reference to the existing "Foxbat" reporting name for the MiG-25. The novel was made into a movie in 1982, starring Clint Eastwood. The real MiG-31 from 1979 was assigned the reporting name "Foxhound".
Lists of NATO reporting names
The initial letter of the name indicated the use of that equipment.
- A — air-to-air missiles.
- K — air-to-surface missiles (from the Russian Kh designation).
- G — surface-to-air missiles, SAM (or Ground-to-air), including ship- and submarine-launched.
- S — surface-to-surface missiles, including ship- and submarine-launched. (most famously the SS-1 “Scud”).
- from this Anti-tank missiles (also S).
- F — fighter aircraft , also later ground attack aircraft.
- B — bomber aircraft.
- C — cargo aircraft and airliners.
- H — helicopters.
- M — Miscellaneous; trainers, reconnaissance, seaplanes, tankers, AEW etc.
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