'AN' Army-Navy Equipment Code Designators
(JETDS Designation System)
On the front of many pieces of military electronic equipment is a name plate displaying a group of letters and numbers which identify the gear. When equipment is procured for the military, equipment model numbers are assigned in accordance with the Joint Electronics Type Designation System. The first two letters are AN. This is the service indicator meaning Army-Navy but does include Air Force. AN is followed by a slant and three  identifying letters. The AN system dates back to around 1945.
FIRST LETTER - Type of installation.

SECOND LETTER - Type of equipment.

THIRD LETTER - Purpose of equipment.

NUMERICS - Denotes the specific model of equipment.

Example: AN/UPD501 means:

AN is Army-Navy
U is Utility
P is Radar
501 - 500 is a Canadian series, so 501 is the first device in this series. Foreign-designed equipment, when built in Canada, was assigned a 500 series number as well as equipment designed and built in Canada.  For instance, the AN/ARC 52 UHF set  when built in Canada became the AN/ARC 552.

A - Airborne A - Invisible light,
      heat radiation 
A - Auxiliary assemblies
B - Underwater mobile (Submarine) B - Pigeon      (inactivated)
B - COMSEC (current)
B - Bombing
C - Air transportable
C- Cryptographic (current)
C - Carrier (electronic wave or signal) C - Communications  (Rx and Tx) 
D - Pilotless carrier ( missile, drone) D - Radiac (radioactivity detection) D - Direction finding
E - Nupac ( inactivated)
E - Laser   (current)
E - Ejection and/or release
F - Ground, fixed F - Photographic (inactivated)
F - Fiber Optics  (current)
G - Fire control or searchlight directing 
G - Ground, general use G - Telegraph or
H - Recording and reproducing
      (graphic, meteorological and 
K - Amphibious I -  Interphone and
      public address 
J - Electro-mechanical
     or inertial wire covered
M - Ground, mobile K - Telemetry K - Computing
L - Countermeasures L - Searchlight control (inactivated - 
      refer to G)
P - Ground portable or pack M - Meterological M - Maintenance and  test assemblies 
S - Water, surface craft N - Sound in air N - Navigation aids ( altimeters,beacons
      compasses, depth sounding, approach,
      and landing).
T - Ground transportable P - Radar P - Reproducing gear. (inactivated) 
U - General utility Q - Sonar Underwater sound Q - Special or combination types 
V - Ground, vehicular  R - Radio R - Receiving or passive detecting
W -Water surface/ 
Underwater combination
S - Special types, magnetic S - Detecting (range and bearing) 
T - Telephone (wire) T - Transmitting
V - Visual and visible light  W - Automatic flight or remote control
Z - Piloted/Pilotless airborne 
      vehicle, combined
W - Armament X - Identification and recognition 
X - Facsimilie or television 
  Y - Data processing Y- Surveillance and control
Z - Communications Z - Secure
These codes are referenced to MIL-STD-196E (Feb, 1998)


An  XP-1 code in the model designator  indicates the procurement office for Experimental / Prototype equipment.
The number indicates a particular developmental or reproduction model.

This list is from 1965 Shipboard Electronic Equipments:

XA-Communication Laboratory, WADC, Dayton, Ohio.
XB-Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, D. C.
XD-Cambridge  Research Center, Cambridge, Mass.
XF-Frankford Arsenal, Philadelphia, Pa.
XG-USN Electronic Laboratory, San Diego, Calif.
XH-Aerial Reconnaissance Laboratory WADC, Dayton, Ohio.
XJ-Naval Air Development Center, Johnsville, Pa.
XK-Flight control Laboratory, WADC, Dayton, Ohio.
XL-Signal Corps  Electronics Research Unit, Mountain View, Calif.
XN-Department of the Navy, Washington, D. C.
XP-Canadian Department of National Defense, Ottawa, Canada.
XS-Electronic Components Laboratory, WADC, Dayton, Ohio.
XU-USN Underwater Sound Laboratory, Fort Trumbull, New London, Conn.
XW-Rome Air Development Center, Rome, N. Y.
XAN-Naval Air Facility, Indianapolis, Ind.


1) Pat Barnhouse <pat.barnhouse(at)sympatico.ca>

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Feb 17/21