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.
|INSTALLATION||TYPE OF EQUIPMENT||PURPOSE|
|A - Airborne||A - Invisible light,
|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
|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,
|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/
|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
|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)
The definitive document for brevity codewords was ACP-165(F). It has now been replaced by APP-7.
1) Pat Barnhouse <pat.barnhouse(at)sympatico.ca>