aka: Reporting Name
We've got incoming "Backfires"! They're probably carrying "Kitchens"! They've got "Flanker" support!
If you didn't understand that, you're probably not alone. note
That was an example of using Reporting Names, which are names given to units whose real names aren't known for some reason. For instance, if American forces keep encountering a particular type of Russian submarine, they might start referring to those submarines as "turtles" or something.
During the Cold War
, Western reporting names were one of the main ways to refer to Soviet and Chinese military technology, for the reasons of language differences and because the actual designations (except for most aircraft), especially in the missile field, weren't generally known. Western military technology tends to get public names, often with help from the PR department (the companies make more sales if the item has a catchy name). The Soviet and Chinese technology was (is) secret and they didn't admit it even existed, never mind the name. Of course, some super secret ("Black") projects in the USA and other nations are given "reporting names" by other nations and the press when their rumored existence is guessed at.
In many ways (especially in the West), they still are a main way to refer to these technologies, especially in naval discussion, although they are slowly dying out. It helps that they are easy to remember.
Somewhat naturally, the idea has carried into fiction, such as the Inner Sphere-given names of Clan Omnimechs in Battletech
Compare Market-Based Title
, which is a case of different names given by the manufacturer
for use in different countries.
Do not confuse with "naming names", which was a rather different Cold War phenomenon. Also don't confuse with "Reporting Marks", which are the 1- to 4-character code used to identify rolling stock operated by a railroad or rail-stock owner in the United States
Also, if the "proper" name of a ship/fighter/tank/missile/etc. is used by all of a work's (on-screen) factions, then don't list it here; this page is for instances where a name other than
the "proper" one is commonly
used by at least one faction. If there is a pattern among "proper" names, then take it to Theme Naming
or the respective subtrope thereof. Conversely, if the faction that uses a piece of equipment uses a name that is significantly different from its "proper" name, then it counts and should be listed here. A case where the "proper" name is not used because it is not known by any
of the viewpoint factions also counts.
Some of these names are drawn up by the Air Standardization Coordinating Committee, made up of the UK, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, so these are known as ASCC designations too, but this is somewhat inaccurate, as other groups chip in too. Understandably, Soviet types and NATO's believed types don't fully match up.
See Mnogo Nukes
, Reds with Rockets
and Tricolours With Rusting Rockets
for more examples of Soviet/Russian reporting names. The Wikipedia entry
covers this in a lot more depth.
Here's some of the better known reporting names:
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It's worth noting there is a method
to these names. They are all phonetic within (presumed) class. In simpler terms:
- All Bombers have names starting with "B"
- All Fighters start with "F"
- All Helicopters start with "H"
- All Cargo and transports Aircraft start with "C"
- All Other Aircraft (reconnaissance, tankers, AWACS) begin with "M"- Miscellaneous.
- All Air to Air missiles start with "A"
- All Air to Surface missiles start with "K"
- All Surface to Surface missiles (anti-tank, anti-ship, tactical nuke, ICBM, whatever) start with "S".
- All Surface to Air missiles start with "G".
Additionally, for fixed-wing aircraft if the name had two syllables it was jet propelled. One syllable meant propeller driven.
Variants have a letter added after them, such as "Backfire-C" for the Tu-22M3. There can be sub-categories of these too.
- "Backfire" - The Tupolev Tu-22M medium bomber, which plays a major role in Red Storm Rising. Mach 2+ capable and with the capacity to carry three nuclear or conventional anti-shipping missiles (or a lot of bombs), it scared the West so much that they got the USSR to take the refueling probes out.
- "Badger"- the Tu-16 medium bomber, used in both a land-attack and anti-ship role, as well as electronic warfare, air-to-air refuelling, SIGINT... you get the idea.
- In The Sixth Battle, a Eurasian character mentally notes that while badgers are ferocious carnivores, they are prized for their pelts.
- Also note that at the height of the Cold War, part of the Mnogo Nukes Soviet Strategy for closing the Atlantic involved a Zerg Rush of Tu-16's (reporting name Badger), some of them equipped with enhanced PSBN-M-8 (reporting name Mushroom) radars, flying in a vaguely serpentine formation. Hilarious in Hindsight leading to the obvious snarky comment from the Meme-Savvy.
- "Bear" - the Tu-95 strategic bomber (Bear-H in its current form) or the Tu-142 anti-submarine plane the subs can hear coming ("Bear-F" in that form), with other variants. Legend has it a Soviet pilot came up with the name, since the bear is the symbol of Russia. Another version has the Russians learning that reporting name from the NATO pilots, and liking it enough to adopt it. In the early years of the Cold War, Bears were armed with nuclear weapons in much the same role as the B-52 Stratofortress. Bears Are Bad News indeed.
- "Firefox" - The fictitious reporting name for the MiG-31 from the book (and film) of the same name, which was Very Loosely Based on contemporary rumours that the new aircraft would be some kind of Soviet Super Science-powered Game Breaker. The Real Life MiG-31, which looks nothing like the plane in the movie, has the reporting name "Foxhound" — it's an interceptor with a Mach 2.8 top speed, the ability to climb to the edge of space, an advanced PESA radar and 10 missiles. Undergoing upgrades to become a multi-role aircraft.
- "Foxfire" is the NATO reporting name for the fire-control radar on the MiG-25 "Foxbat" (see below).
- "Flanker" - the Su-27S ("Flanker-B"), the newer version two-seater Su-30 ("Flanker-C", "Flanker-G" for the Chinese version and "Flanker-H" for the Indian one), the carrier-capable Su-33 ("Flanker-D"), the limited-service Su-35 ("Flanker-E") and the technology demonstrator Su-37 ("Flanker-F" or the "Super Flanker" still in prototype stage). The Russian response to the previously-unrivaled F-15, it is a higly-maneuverable, long-range aerial interceptor, which has been exported quite a bit. Capable of doing a move (some other aircraft can do it too, but it's most associated with the Flanker series) called "Pugachev's Cobra", where the aircraft effectively slides along on its tail. Whether it is of real-world combat utility or not remains to be seen (similar questions were raised about the Harrier "Viffing", before it turned out to be lethally effective in the Falklands). Whatever else may be said about it, it's one hell of a Cool Plane.
- "Frogfoot" - the Su-25, known to its crews as "Grach" ("rook"). A ground-attack aircraft, a new two-seater version, the Su-39 is in production. Dubbed "The German Product" by Afghan fighters because they couldn't initially believe that something Soviet-built was that efficient. A counterpart to the A-10: not very high-and-flashy, but very tough and boy does it get the job done.
- Intra-Russian calling name also produced a famous running gag. There is a rather popular picture "Rooks Flew In" (often less correctly translated as The Rooks Have Come Back, which loses part of the joke) by 19-century artist Savrasov. Needless to say, this picture was, and still is, more referenced by Russian frontline forces then every other piece of art combined. With much relief and Schadenfreude.
- "Fulcrum" - the MiG-29, the Russian counterpart to the F-16. Very agile. Its best known feature is the R-73/AA-11 "Archer" missiles. Coupled to a helmet-mounted sight (like Airwolf has), these highly agile missiles can be launched by the pilot merely looking at his target, up to about 60 degrees off the centre-line. Shockingly disproportionate results in mock dogfights with German MiG-29s led to the U.S. developing improved Sidewinders in response.
- According to references in The Other Wiki, the Russian pilots liked the NATO reporting name so much (they found the MiG-29 to be rather "pivotal") that they started using the Fulcrum name themselves. This was somewhat common for Soviet aircraft; they didn't have official names, just model numbers, so if the pilots hadn't already come up with their own nickname (see next entry), they'd likely adopt the NATO reporting name.
- "Foxbat" - The MiG-25 interceptor aircraft. Capable of reaching Mach 3.2 and an altitude of over 80,000 feet, but had a very short range and wasn't very maneuverable, as the Americans learned when a Soviet pilot defected with one of them (when they were done with it, they gave it back to the USSR. In over 60 boxes).
- "Hind" - the Mil Mi-24 helicopter gunship/transport. Troop capacity is about half that of the UH-60 Black Hawk, weapons capacity is of AH-64 Apache level- it can carry the Russian equivalent of the Sidewinder IR missile, the R-73/AA-11 "Archer". A lot of variants. Soviet pilots called it the "Crocodile" or "Flying Tank". Widely exported and is still turning up in conflicts the world over.
- In Afghanistan the Russians tended to *use* it carrying only four-man fireteam elements, but this was due entirely to the inadvisability of hanging around under heavy fire. It could carry a full eight-man squad, making it quite comparable to the Blackhawk or Huey. Its anti-tank armament was somewhat lacking, though; as designed, it had launch rails for only four antitank missiles, compared to the sixteen even an old AH1-T could carry. It did have stub wings with four hardpoints that in theory could carry an astonishing variety of heavy ordnance but which in the field frequently got UM57 57mm dumb rocket launchers bolted on, because Soviet airmobile doctrine envisioned using the transport helicopter in a secondary direct-fire fire-support role as a sort of flying Katyusha artillery rocket launcher. They got a whole lot deadlier when more powerful 80mm rockets with FAE warheads were installed.
- The Hind's role as a troop transport is a distant second after its primary role as a gunship, one reason being that with the increased weight of a full load of passengers it has to make a rolling takeoff to get airborne.
- The Hind was featured in the Rambo series, Red Dawn and Blood Diamond, among other films, and Metal Gear Solid 3 went so far as to 'reveal' that Big Boss came up with the name "Hind". It also inspired the LAAT transport gunships in the Star Wars prequels.
- "Scud" - Made most famous by the Persian Gulf War, it describes the R-11/R-17 ballistic missile series (better known by its Western designation of SS-1: see below).
- "Aurora" - An American version. Aurora (SR-91 Aurora) is the popular name for a hypothesized United States reconnaissance aircraft, alleged to be capable of hypersonic flight. It is believed that the Aurora project was canceled due to a shift from spyplanes to high-tech unmanned aerial vehicles and reconnaissance satellites. Whether or not it ever existed, if it was ever officially "Aurora", the name was probably changed as soon as the rumors became public.
The Russians generally feel a bit insulted by many of these names, many of which are a bit derogatory. Who, for example, would want to fly a "Fishpot" (the Su-9), a "Fishbed" (MiG-21), a "Farmer" (MiG-19) or, for that matter, a "Flogger" (MiG-23/27)? The ultimate prize has to go to the MiG-15, which has Unfortunate Implications
(It's 'fagot'. A name for a bassoon.). Some, however, are liked by their crews- the aforementioned "Bear" and "Fulcrum", for example.
By the way
, that message at the top of this page means incoming Tu-22Ms armed with Kh-22 anti-shipping missilesnote
(which could be equipped with a nuclear warhead), backed up by Su-27s.
Ships and Subs
All submarine classes are named, in random order, for a letter in the Military Alphabet
(Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, etc..). When they ran out, the next class was named "Akula" ("shark" in Russian). It should be noted that the same name was actually given by the Soviets to what the West called the "Typhoon", which causes some confusion among sub spotters. The Cold War ended before more classes came out post-"Graney". These are sub-divided with a Roman numeral afterwards, such as "Delta IV" for the Delfin type of Soviet SSBN.
- "Whiskey"- Project 613 and some others. One of the most numerous submarine classes built in history- over 250 built. Diesel patrol subs, one ended up running aground off the coast of Sweden in 1981, an incident dubbed "Whiskey on the Rocks".
- "Charlie"- Project 670 SSGN- guided missile nuclear submarines, capable of firing nuclear warheads. Included the "Charlie I" type, seen in the Pacific Fleet and the Northern Fleet's improved "Charlie II".
Surface ship classes have a variety of different names. A ship might go from temporary designations, to Russian words beginning with "K" to "first in class" names (rendered in "italics
" here), which the Soviet Union and Russia don't actually do, tending to use names of birds for their bigger ships. There were also "shipyard first sited" names for more minor vessels, as well as Russian diminutives, bird names...
- "Osa"- the Project 205 Tsunami missile boats. Over 400 built and widely exported, they featured in the Battle of Lakatia in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the first battle between missile vessels on sea- Syria (with the "Osas") lost to Israel.
- "Osa" (rendered in Cyrillic as "Oca" is Russian for "wasp". Not to be confused with "Oka" which is the VAZ-1111 minicar.
- There are two Russian platforms actually called Osa- the 9K33 (its GRAU number, a Soviet/Russian thing for equipment categorising) Osa/SA-8 "Gecko"- a mobile SAM system and the M79 Osa hand-held anti-tank missile launcher.
- "Kirov"- the Orlan (Sea Eagle) class of nuclear-powered heavy cruisers/battlecruisers, first one originally called Kirov. Real life examples of the Cool Boat- they are seriously heavily armed. Four in Russian service, three undergoing refits.
- "Kiev"- the Krechyet (Gyrfalcon) class of hybrid cruiser/carriers. As in case of the Kirov class, this class was known after its first unit, Kiev. This class was equipped with a number of antisubmarine helicopters and one of the worst naval fighters in Cold War history, the Yak-38 "Forger".
- "Admiral Kuznetsov"- this is actually the Russian name (the final one anyway- going through a few - Riga, Tbilisi and Leonid Brezhnev) for the class, but it became the NATO reporting name too, since it fit the scheme. It's a one-of-a-kind large aircraft carrier with a heavy anti-ship missile battery, although three brother (Russian ships are generally male) vessels were planned - the incomplete Varyag was taken by the Chinese Navy and converted into the functional carrier Liaoning. Kuznetsov has suffered from maintenance and engine problems and once had to be towed home from the Mediterranean by a tug. =
- "Slava"- the Project 1164 Atlant cruisers, also a "first-in-class" name. The reporting name remains the same, although Slava is now called Moskva- the reporting name of another class.
Warheads, Radars, and other Ancillaries
The other way of referring to missiles (and space launchers) is by a Department of Defense letter designation i.e. SS-20. SS means surface to surface and 20 was the 20th type identified. If there's an N in the designation, it's a naval missile. X means eXperimental (i.e. in development). This system remains today, with the under-development (and not exactly working) Bulava missile (for the Borey class submarines) being the SS-NX-30.
The two designations are often combined (i.e. SS-20 "Saber"), but they assigned separately. This sometimes means that the same "name" is allocated to more than one designation, something that usually applies with surface-to-air missiles. It should be noted that while anything new that turned up got a reporting name, only stuff thought like to enter service got a DoD designation.
Other designations included:
- SA- surface-to-air.
- AA- air-to-air
- AS- air-to-surface.
- AT- anti-tank.
- SL- space launchers.
- FROG (Free Rocket Over Ground)- certain types of artillery.
- -N- as a middle designator is for a naval system, for the example the P-120 Malakhit/SS-N-9 "Siren" anti-shipping missile. It does not designate a naval version: the ship-based version of the Osa/SA-8 "Gecko" is called the SA-N-4 "Gecko".
- The SS-20 "Saber" (Soviet designation RT-21M Pioneer) was a medium-range, multiple-warhead ballistic missile, which lead to the counter-deployment of Pershing II and Gryphon missiles in Western Europe.
- SA-7 "Grail"- the Strela hand-held SAM system.
- SA-2 "Guideline"- the famous S-75 SAM system, a major problem for US forces in Vietnam.
When it comes to equipment designed and produced by the Peoples Liberation Army
(as opposed to imported or liscenced hardware) the usual methodology is to reset the number and add a "C" too the front of one of the above designations. For example: The CSS-4, which was the first true Chinese ICBM.
Radar, electronic, communications and sonar systems usually have two-word names, sometimes picked in an amusing reference to the shape of the system, such as:
- "Slot Back" - the MiG-29's N019 radar.
- "Fan Song" - for the search radar for the SA-2 and SA-6 among others.
- "Mouse Roar" - the MG-519 attack sonar, found on the "Kilo" class of submarines, among others.
- "Sky Watch" - Mars-Passat search radar, found on the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, although it's never become operational.
- "Trash Can "- Tamara passive tracking system (tracks aircraft by radar emissions).
- "Eye Bowl" - a fire-control radar for the SS-N-14 "Silex" (see Mnogo Nukes).
- "Steel Yard" - The Duga-3 over-the-horizon early warning radar, including one example based in the later Zone of Alienation at Chernobyl, Ukraine. That one was known as the "Russian Woodpecker" by the ham radio community during its 1976-1989 operating life, due to the sheer annoyance factor of the thing broadcasting at 10 Hz and interfering with a lot of other traffic.
- "Head Light" - the fire-control system for the M-11 Shtorm/SA-N-3 "Goblet".
- Zoopark - a counterbattery radar.
Torpedoes form an odd exception to the usual scheme: they were designated by two numbers, the first being the diameter of the torpedo in centimeters, and the second being the year the torpedo was introduced. Hence, the 53-65 wake-homing torpedo is a 53cm wide torpedo first seen in 1965, and the 65-76 torpedo is 65cm wide and was introduced in 1976. There are a lot of 53-'s as this was a standard torpedo size for the USSR during most of the Cold War
Other Real Life Examples
A similar system was used for Japanese aircraft during World War II
. "Zeke" referred to the Mitsubishi A6M Reisen fighter more commonly known as the "Zero". (Although when a new version, the A6M3, was issued, the Allies, unaware that it was a new iteration of the Zero, gave it initially the reporting name "Hap." However, General Henry H. "Hap" Arnold wasn't too thrilled with the name
, and it was changed in extremely
short order to "Hamp.") The naming scheme was a mostly simple one, with fighters being given male names (Zeke, Oscar, Rufe), bombers/recon planes given female names (Betty, Dinah), trainers being named after kinds of trees (Maple, Ash), and a rocket-powered kamikaze guided bomb being quite appropriately referred to as "Baka" note
. It's generally believed that the officer who thought up these names was from the Deep South
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Anime and Manga
- In Mobile Suit Gundam, the Zeon refer to the titular Humongous Mecha & its carrier as "White Devil" & "Trojan Horse" respectively before learning their true names from Cozun Graham. Oddly, the Guncannon & Guntank apparently don't get reporting names & are simply refered to as "The Red One" & "You Call That A Mobile Suit?". The Core Fighters are refered to as "Mosquitoes" more than once, but this may simply be an insult. On the other side, the Zeon MS, especially the Zakus are often referred to as "Cyclops" by the Feddies due to their distinctive optic sensors, but this may just be a colloquialism, as the Zakus, at least had been known since before the start of the war. Doms are also refered to as "Skirts" at first due to their distinctive armor.
- The Human Reform League in Gundam 00 uses reporting names for the Gundams in the first season. The figter/variable mobile suit Kyrios is dubbed 'Wings'note while the heavily armed and armoured Virtue is called 'Giant.'
- In Gundam Wing, the Alliance and OZ simply assigns each of the five Gundams a number — Wing is 01 (Zero-One), Deathscythe is 02, etc. Of course, these names all match up perfectly with the show's Numerical Theme Naming.
- In Gundam SEED, everyone on both sides knows the official names of all mobile suit and ship types. The one exception is the Archangel: despite knowing it was being built, ZAFT didn't know its name. They simply call it "The Legged Ship" through most of, if not all of, the series.
- Gundam SEED Destiny follows the same pattern, however Phantom Pain refers to Impulse (who's data they specifically didn't have out of the 4 original Gundams) as some variation of "Combining guy" and the Savior (which wasn't intoduced until much later) as "Newcomer." Zaft meanwhile refers to the Girty Lue (and illegal unregistered Earth ship) as "Bogey-1", and calls the new model Strike Freedom and Infinite Justice by the names of the original units.
- In the manga version of Bokurano, the names of the enemy robots get a name based on their description in alphabetical order. For example, the first is Arachne, the second is Bayonet, the third is Crab, and so on and so forth.
- Full Metal Panic! carries on the NATO tradition of using S-names to refer to Soviet weapons, in this case including "Shamrock", "Savage", and "Shadow". The Codarl family of Lambda Driver-equipped Arm Slaves is given the collective codename "Venom".
- The aforementioned "Firefox"
- In the second book of the The Third World War, a section is devoted to an Airborne Warning And Control System (AWACS) version of the Il-76 "Candid" transport plane, called the Il-76C or "Cooker". Just before the war kicks off in the Central Region of NATO (i.e. West Germany), one has to make an emergency landing at a Polish airport. The Polish ground crew nick the operating manuals and pass them to NATO. As the crew don't wish to feel the wrath of their superiors for losing the documents, they don't report the theft and NATO is able to render the "Cooker" ineffective.
- There is a real-life "Candid" AWACS version- but this was a Beriev project and is called the A-50 "Mainstay". It remains in Russian service, with examples exported.
- In the Star Carrier series the Terran Confederation Navy doesn't know the actual names for Turusch warships, so individual classes are lettered based on the Military Alphabet (for example, a big multikilometer battleship converted from an asteroid is designated Bravo-class). Turusch space fighters get nicknamed "Toads" due to their lumpy potato-like shape. The word "Turusch" itself is also an example, being the Agletsch term for the species, which actually calls itself the Gweh.
- In Doom, shortly after Fly and Arlene reunite they start brainstorming names for the monsters. They hope to find a radio and want to provide a proper report on what they've encountered. It's also the closest thing they have to entertainment. Arlene is better at the game and usually comes up with a reason to assign a monster the proper name from the games. Those that differ are:
- Baron of hell - hell-prince
- Cacodemon - pumpkin. Later on, the military formally designates the monster as "cacodemon".
- Lost soul - flying skull
- Cyberdemon - steam demon.
- Clyde is the name assigned to the vat-grown humans and fills the role of the chaingun zombies. Fly doesn't get the reference to Clyde Barrow, and he asks why they don't call the clones Fred and Barney or Ralph and Norton.
- Revenant - bony
- Mancubus - fatty
- Arch-vile - fire-eater
- The Mormons have their own conventions using Biblical/demonic terms. The only confirmed name, in an Albert POV chapter, is moloch for cyberdemon. A force of "brownies" and "baphomets" attack Salt Lake City; brownie is almost certainly the imp and baphomet is probably the demon, as both are the grunts of the alien monsters. "Shelobs" are mentioned in the same vein as moloch-cyberdemons, the biggest and most powerful of the monsters. Given the name comes from The Lord of the Rings, shelob is probably the spiderminds.
Star Wars Franchise
Star Wars Expanded Universe
, particularly the X-Wing Series
, is unsurprisingly full of this. Really big, impressive ships, like Executor
-class Star Dreadnoughts, got no nicknames, but ships that were encountered more frequently tended to attract short names that could be shouted by surprised pilots when they came out of hyperspace. Some of the more recurring names:
- "Eyeballs" (TIE fighters)
- "Squints" (TIE Interceptors)
- "Dupes" (TIE Bombers)
- "Brights" (special models like TIE Advanced)
- "Trips" (TIE Defenders, which had three wing-bases)
- "Clutches" (Tri-Fighters)
- "Pointers" (X-Wings)
- "Wishbones" or, alternately, "Wallowing Pigs" (Y-Wings)
- "Slims" (A-Wings)
- "Crosses" (B-Wings)
- "Uglies" (Cobbled-together mix and match ships)
- A sub-class of Uglies is the "die-wing", a particularly lethal combo of Y-wing and TIE fighter. (Lethal to the pilot, that is. TIE has no shields, and the Y-wing bomber is really slow. Do the math.)
- There's also the X-Tie, the rather amusing combination of the two great rivals. TIE solar panels on an X-Wing fuselage.
- And X-Ceptor, which is the X-Tie with TIE Interceptor wings.
- "Lambs" (Lambda-class T-4a shuttles)
- There were two versions of the famed Imperial-class Star Destroyers:
- Plain "Impstars" referred to the first version, the first ship being the ''Imperator''
- The second edition went by "Impstar Deuce" or simply "Deuce" and its first ship was the ''Empire''
- "Vics" (Victory-class Star Destroyers)
- "Drag ships" (Interdictor Star Destroyers)
- "Skips" (Vong coralskippers)
- Identification of Yuuzhan Vong capital ships, which due to their Organic Technology nature are less identical than traditional ships, runs entirely off of reporting names based on their size and, sometimes, combat role. Hence, corvette-analogues, cruiser-analogues, carrier-analogues, interdictor-analogues, etc. In most cases, these matched only loosely with the Vongs' own categorizations.
- In Warhammer 40,000 the vehicles used by the Tau are known only by their Imperial designations, which are all based on sea life: Hammerhead Tanks, Orca Drop Ships, Barracuda fightercraft, ect...
- Tau Battlesuits are also known by Imperial designations. XV (short for the Tau term, which translates to "mantle of the hero"), followed by a number indicating weight class and a second number indicating specialisation. For example XV-8 is a general purpose heavy battlesuit, while XV-88 is the same class but fitted for fire support and XV-25 is a light stealth suit. The new XV-104 mech is therefore properly called "ten-four" rather than "hundred and four".
- Similarily, the various Tyranid creatures are only ever referred to by their Imperial reporting names due to the fact that the 'Nids don't have any kind of language that humans or other intelligent life are capable of comprehending. The imperial names, gathered from different encounters all over the galaxy, don't really have a common theme, except that many sound vaguely like dinosaur names, and some are Latin names for things from the Romans: Lictors were public bodyguards for Roman magistrates, Carnifexes were executioners for the lower classes, it also means Butcher as in the job description. On the other hand, the Tyranid Hive Fleets follow a clear Theme Naming scheme that draws upon the names of monsters and eldritch abominations from ancient long-dead mythologies and legends (from in-universe POV, which includes 20th/21st-century fiction), e.g. Behemoth, Kraken, Hydra, Jormungandr, and Dagon, with some being named after fearsome prehistoric animals, like Magalodon [sic].
- Eldar tanks are also commonly known by their imperial type names. For some vehicles, the Eldars' own name for them is also known, for example the Falcon is properly called Enfaolchu and is named after a bird in the Eldar mythology.
- The early BattleMechs used by the Clans in BattleTech usually have two names: The more famous names used by the Inner Sphere they're invading (such as the Thor and Mad Cat), and the 'Mech's true clan designation (Summoner and Timber Wolf respectively). Which ones are used by any individual fan are a matter of preference. Later Clan mechs have only one name, as the Clanners maintain contact with the Inner Sphere and share some data.
- The Terrans in FreeSpace 2 used Egyptian- and demonic-themed reporting names, respectively, for Vasudan and Shivan themed spacecraft, in contrast to the Greco-Roman names they gave to their own ship classes. The Vasudans, who admired Ancient Egypt, adopted the reporting names when they merged their government with the Terrans. The Shivans are too belligerent and use some kind of communication method that prevents them from being asked for their opinion of GTVA reporting names.
- Used in the games set in the X-Universe. Due to the fact that no human is able to pronounce the original names of alien ships, all have got reporting names — Boron ships have fish names, Paranids use names from Greek mythology, and so on. X Rebirth shows a more literal translation for Split ships. Their Raptor-class carrier is actually called the "Gangrene Chaser". The encyclopedia then goes on to say that many pilots wish it hadn't been translated.
- Ace Online has them too:
- Anima Mortar (A-gear)
- Brandy Burg (B-gear)
- Idle Sniper (I-gear)
- Meadow Bugle (M-gear)
- In the Halo series, Covenant vehicles are known only by their UNSC designations, which are ethereal or supernatural beings — Ghost scout vehicles, Wraith tanks, Phantom and Spirit dropships, Banshee fliers, Seraph starfighters, Shadow troop transports, and Vampire support fighters. Mobile assault platforms are named after non-mythical insects with ties to mythology instead — Locust light assault platform and Scarab ultra heavy assault platform.
** It's worth noting that all of the Covenant species' "names" are also UNSC designations. "Brute" is a lot faster and easier to say than "Jiralhanae". Grunt is obvious, Jackal is a behavioral thing, and Elites refer to their role. Drones are obvious, Hunters are a role, and Brutes are behavioral. The Flood, the Forerunners, and the Prophets are exceptions, being names translated by advanced human AI.
- A Nod intelligence item in Tiberium Wars suggests the name "Gravity Stabilizer" for the Scrin aircraft production is actually a name given by analysts after studying what the unknown "Visitor structure type 8" did. Presumably the other units' names were arrived at similarly, giving them a somewhat more plainly descriptive feel than the original factions' units. One imagines the Scrin themselves were less than interested in telling humans all about their fancy tech.
- The names of the different zerg broods in Starcraft (back when the zerg had discreet broods) were explicitly stated to be names given by terran analysts. Their units are presumably named similarly. The zerg are shown to use these names themselves, but that's probably just Translation Convention.
- In Super Robot Wars the various Balmar mechs are all simply given reporting names by humans based on what they look like. The six-legged ones are called "Bugs", the ones with wings are called "Birds", etc. The various humanoid types are called "Soldiers", "Knights" & "Fatmen". They are also asigned a numerical designation based on the order they were first encountered in. The Bugs, being recon units are therefore designated AGXnote -01; the heroic Cybaster has an official-unofficial AGX model number because the EFA initially mistook it for a Balmar machine. The funny thing is that their real names are also Earth words, only this time in Ancient Hebrew...
- Shadow Mirror's Soulgain is referred to as Mustache Man (or White Wrath in the English version, despite it being blue), while Zweizergain is referred to as Horned Man. The Shura gods Ialdaboth and Valefor are both referred to as "the haired one" by the EFA until Folka joins and tells everyone their actual names. Meanwhile the Shura refer to Compatible Kaiser as the "Red Demon".
- In Homeworld, due to various confusions over which race the player belonged to, Taiidan vessels ended up with Kushan names, explicitly referring to creatures and gods from Kushani mythology. This was retconned in the sequel, Homeworld: Cataclysm, to be class names invented by the latter race's Fleet Intelligence. The native Taiidani names were never revealed.
- Inverted in EVE Online, where every ship type has an official nickname, but no actual designations; it's Translation Convention from the languages of the four Empires to English. Which may not help you as a newbie listening in to player's combat coms. "Get a point and a web on that Phoon! Put damps on it!"note
- In the 1998 Remake of BattleZone, the Soviet-made Cosmo Colonist Army vehicles are all known by Reporting Names. The "fighter" tank is called the Flanker, after the Su-27.
- In the Mass Effect universe, this is how the different varieties of husks are referred to. Some of them are meant to be descriptive, such as the Cannibals (which can eat their fallen comrades to regain health) or the Banshees (which announce their presence with a terrifying wail). The only variety not to receive a nickname are the original basic human models, simply called "husks".
- The Nephilim from Wing Commander Prophecy initially have no names beyond "Unknown" when they first appear, but Confed quickly starts naming Nephilim craft after sea creatures, including a few mythological ones for big capital ships.
- Ace Combat: Assault Horizon uses the real-world reporting names and/or designations for all the military hardware portrayed. It also includes an in-universe example ("Didn't know the real name so we made one up") when the enemy's new non-nuclear bombs are christened "Trinity". Even after the project details are discovered, the name sticks.
- World of Tanks players usually operate with something very close to this trope, consisting of abbreviations and player or historical nicknames for vehicles. Someone calling spots may state "Bathtub, Tumor, E2", meaning S35 AC and Souma SAu-40 tank destroyers accompanied by a Sherman M4A3E2 "Jumbo".
- The eponymous fightercraft from Einhänder is actually a reporting name used by the (German-speaking) Earth forces. The fighter's actual name is either "Astraea" or "Endymion", depending on the specific model you choose to fly.