Joint Electronics Type Designation System (JETDS)

The Joint Electronics Type Designation System (JETDS) provides a standard for naming electronic equipment so that a common designation could be used for all the military services' equipment. JETDS was formerly known as the Joint Army-Navy nomenclature system (JAN or AN System). JETDS provides a uniform nomenclature system for all types of military electronics: radios, radar, night vision, test equipment, and much more.

AN/PRC-150(C) High-Frequency Manpack Radio peeks out from ruck. Photo:  Harris Corporatio
AN/PRC-150(C) High-Frequency Manpack Radio peeks out from ruck. Photo: Harris Corporation.

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Use of the Joint Electronics Type Designation System (JETDS)

AN/PRC-112 Identification Plate
AN/PRC-112 Identification Plate.

The Joint Electronics Type Designation System (JETDS) standardizes equipment nomenclature with a naming convention of multiple parts. The full JETDS process and codes is described in MIL-STD-196 which provides for naming a very wide variety of Systems, Subsystems, Centers, Centrals, Sets, Groups and Units. Generally, a JETDS designation will be assigned for any electronic equipment that is custom designed for the military or commercial equipment modified for military use so that military design control is required.

The JETDS designation is assigned to equipment as part of the acquisition process, following MIL-STD-196. Generally, the contractor is obligated to submit DD Form 61 to obtain the designation.

Type Designators for the Joint Electronics Type Designation System (JETDS)

The type designator portion of the assigned nomenclature is definitive in that it will never be duplicated or changed. It will always apply to one specific item. All subsequent models and variants of that item will have the same number, with modification letters added, when interchangeability is maintained. Indicator letters will be selected from tables provided by MIL-STD-196, partially reproduced on this page.

A type designator assignment for a definitive system, subsystem, central, center or set consists of an AN, a slant bar (solidus), a series of three letters (the Equipment Indicator Code), a dash, and a number. For example, an appropriate designator would be AN/ARC-73.

All groups are identified by two indicator letters selected from a table provided in MIL-STD-196, as applicable (e.g., OD, OE, OJ, OR, etc.) The type designator for a group consists of the group indicator, a dash, a number, the slant bar (solidus), and the type designator for the equipment it is “part of" or “used with". When the group is known to be peculiar to a specific equipment, for example, part of the AN/TPN-30, with no known potential for other use, the type designator after the slant should be: OK-414/TPN-30. When the group may have multiple applications, the type designator after the solidus should be more general, such as, OK-198/G or OK-181/SL.

The type designator for units having one end item consists of an indicator from a table provided in MIL-STD-196, a dash, a number, a slant bar (solidus) and the type designator of the equipment it is a “part of" or “used with" (i.e., Receiver, Radio R-40/VRC-12).

The type designator for units having multiple usage is the same as for units having one end item, except following the slant bar only those indicators which are common or appropriate should appear. For example, a Power Supply that is “part of" or “used with" the AN/VRC-12 and AN/VRC-19 is identified as an PP-50/VRC. A Power Supply, which is “part of" the AN/VRC-12 and “used with" the AN/VRR-40 is identified as PP-60/VR. Alternately, A Power Supply, which is “part of" or “used with" the AN/GRC-26 and AN/GPS-20 is identified as the PP-70/G.

Systems, subsystems, centers, centrals, sets, groups, or units with variable complement data are assigned type designators in the same manner as for definitive versions, except that the parenthetical V, "(V)", is added to the type designator. Some examples include an AN/FSG-1(V), OT-1957(V)/APQ-73(V), and the RT-2001(V)/GRC-90(V).

Variable systems, subsystems, centers, centrals, sets, groups, or units are assigned a number following the parenthetical (V), to further identify a specific configuration of a variable system, subsystem, center, central, set, group, or unit (i.e., AN/SRC-75(V)1, AN/ARC-75(V)3; OT-1957(V)1/APQ-73(V), OT-1957(V)2/APQ-73(V); and PT-1997(V)1/ARC).

Units designed to accept “plug-ins" which change the function, frequency, or technical characteristics of the unit are type designated with (P) preceding the slant bar. The “plugs-ins" are not considered “part of" the unit (i.e., Receiver, Radio R-00(P)/GRC-19).

A parenthetical C, "(C)", will be used only by the National Security Agency (NSA) for classified and/or cryptographic items. Concurrence from NSA must be obtained for all items with Communications Security (COMSEC) as “part of" the item.

A digit or digits in parentheses directly following the letters of the type designator may indicate the Type of automatic data processing equipment (ADPE) included. For example, set designator AN/UYK (1,4,5) indicates a (1) Digital Processor, (4) Input/Output device (5) or tape equipment. The digits range from 1 to 6, specified in MIL-STD-196.

The use of -T with a number indicates training equipment, either specific (eg AN/ARC-6A-T1) or more general (eg AN/ARC-TI or AN/URC-T1).

Maintenance test equipment requiring AN type designation use “Installation" and “Type of Equipment" indicators followed by the letter “M" as the purpose indicator. As examples, Test Set, Radar AN/MPM-8 may be used for Radar Set AN/MPG-5, AN/MPS-5, AN/MPS-12, and AN/MPN-9; and Test Set, Radio AN/URM-20 may be for Radio Set AN/TRC-7 and AN/ARC-2.

Since the "AN/" is always the same, it is often dropped in informal documents. For example, the AN/PRC-149 is sometimes referred to as the PRC-149.

JETDS Three Letter Equipment Indicator Codes

The following table of JETDS Equipment Indicator Codes are used to assign and interpret the three letter codes associated with military electronic equipment. For example, for Radio AN/URM-20 the letters "URM" are the Equipment Indicator Code, comprised of the letter "U" for the Installation, the "R" for the Equipment Type, and the "M" for the Purpose.

This table conforms to MIL-STD-196E dated 17 February 1998. Some of the codes have been changed from earlier editions of the standard so older equipment may not conform to this table. As technology moves forward, codes become obsolete and new codes must be added (eg, for computers). For example, the Equipment Type code "B" used to mean Pigeon and Purpose Code "L" was reserved for Searchlight Control.

1st Letter: Installation 2nd Letter: Equipment Type 3rd Letter: Purpose
A - Piloted Aircraft A - Invisible light, heat radiation A - Auxiliary assembly **
B - Underwater Mobile, Submarine B - COMSEC * B - Bombing
C - Cryptographic * C - Carrier - Electronic Wave/Signal C - Communication (R/T)
D - Pilotless carrier D - Radiac D - Direction Finder, Reconnaissance & Surveillance
E - E - Laser E - Ejection and/or Release
F - Fixed Ground F - Fiber Optics F -
G - General Ground Use G - Telegraph or Teletype G - Fire Control or Searchlight Directing
H - H - H - Recording/Reproducing
I - I - Interphone and Public Address I -
K - Amphibious K - Telemetering k - Computing
L - L - Countermeasures L -
M - Mobile (Ground) M - Meteorological M - Maintenance/Test Assemblies
N - N - Sound in air N - Navigational aids
P - Portable P - Radar P -
Q - Q - Sonar and Underwater Sound Q - Special or Combination
R - R - Radio R - Receiving/Passive Detecting
S - Water S - Special or Combination S - Detecting/Range and Bearing, Search
T - Transportable (Ground) T - Telephone (Wire) T - Transmitting
U - General Utility U - U -
V - Vehicular (Ground) V - Visual and Visible Light V -
W - Water Surface and Underwater Combined W - Armament (Peculiar to armament not otherwise covered) W - Automatic Flight or Remote Control
X - X - Facsimile or Television X - Identification and Recognition
Y - Y - Data Processing or Computer Y - Surveillance (Search, detect and multiple target tracking) and Control (Both fire control and air control)
Z - Piloted-Pilotless Airborne Vehicles Combined Z - Communications* S - Secure*

* National Security Agency (NSA) use only.
** Department Control Point use only.

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