The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) phonetic alphabet, officially called the International Radiotelephony Spelling Alphabet, is a way of using words to replace letters. The first letter of the word is the letter the word stands for.

The phonetic alphabet is used to say letters out loud when they might be hard to hear such as over the phone, or when it is important to be accurate, such as in air travel.

The letter L is represented by the word Lima. "Lima" is replaced by the old RAF word "London" in Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, because "lima" means "five" in Indonesian, Malay and a number of other languages in those countries. Thus, confusion could occur if a string of mixed numerals and letters were being given.

NATO first began using the alphabet in 1956 after years of research. The choice of words needed to have a similar spelling in at least English, French, and Spanish, the three most used languages in the (western) world. For this reason, the word for the letter A is "Alfa" rather than the English spelling "Alpha", otherwise, it would be mispronounced by French and Spanish speakers. Similarly, the letter J is "Juliett" because the French tend not to pronounce the last letter of a word.

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