The Importance of Aircraft Part NSN

An aircraft is a complex vehicle because of its many intricate components. In order to efficiently and effectively manage these parts, manufacturers assign a unique number to each of them. This number helps manufacturers to document the accurate name and description of each part in their catalog. This unique number is referred to as NSN.

aircraft model

This article will discuss the idea behind parts numbering, how you can read an aircraft part NSN, and the importance of NSN. Keep reading!

What is NSN?

NSN is an acronym for National Stock Number. It is also called the NATO Stock Number. It is simply an official label applied to supplies that are repeatedly used, issued, stored, stocked, and procured all through the federal system of supply.

Additionally, it’s a special item that identifies certain numbers. When it is given to items, the data is collected and used to describe those items. The data elements include performance and physical characteristics, unit price, the part number of the manufacturer, and the name of the item. NSNs are essential parts of the military supply chain logistics for disposing, storing, moving, and managing materials.

Furthermore, National Stock Numbers help to manage and identify almost anything from light bulbs to aircraft parts. They also facilitate the standard naming of supplies, the language used in supply, and the management and characteristics of data. As a result, there is a reduction in duplicating the federal inventory supplies.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the U.S. government, and other governments around the globe recognize the official use of NSN. Federal Agencies like the Department of Defense (DOD) use it to purchase and manage supplies every year.

Why Was the National Stock Number Created?

During the second world war, different Military Services had different names for a particular item. It became difficult for them to locate items or even share them. For instance, one item could be called a shim, washer, or spacer. This led to the depletion of supply for one team while another team had a surplus.

Therefore, there arose a need to create a common description and name for items. If each Military Service called an item by different names, they will not locate and transport assets among each service. Also, the DOD discovered that it would be essential to describe all similar items with similar characteristics to facilitate item comparisons. This will help to prevent the proliferation of similar items in the inventory of the DOD.

To this day, commercial organizations reinforce and justify the importance of a standard national stock system of numbering. Manufacturers use various commercial part conventions for numbering. For instance, they may name items using different descriptors such as UPC (Universal Product Code), UNSPSC (Universal Standard Products and Services Classification Code), and/or National Drug Code.

However, the use of NSN hinders manufacturers from applying different naming languages. Instead, they use a universal naming convention and logistics data management to describe items. You can watch the video below to learn more about the history of NSN.

The Structure of the NSN

You will recognize a numbering system such as 269-504-8921 because it is a telephone system of numbering. The three different parts of a phone number are easy to identify because one part contains an area code, another contains the exchange, while the last part is the unique 4-digits.

Just as the telephone number parts have distinct meanings, the NSN is created to convey certain information about items. It is a thirteen-digit code that’s represented as 6240-01-435-8645

  1. 6240 is the federal supply classification.
  2. 01 is the NATO country system of codification.
  3. 435-8645 is the unique number of the item.
aircraft part

The first 4 digits are called FSC. For instance, the FSC for electronic lamps is 6240. Therefore, similar items, including sodium lamps, mercury lamps, incandescent lamps, and fluorescent lamps, will carry this number.

The next 2 digits are the code of the place of origin. Codes 01 and 00 show that the items are from the U.S. Lastly, the 7 digits are assigned sequentially and are peculiar to each National Stock Number.

What Is the Value of NSN?

The importance of NSN is as follows:

  1. It reduces downtime as procurement personnel can quickly locate, identify, and order supplies or parts.
  2. The existing inventory can be accounted for
  3. It helps to identify the shelf life of items.
  4. It maximizes the available spare items by identifying items that are substitutable or interchangeable.
  5. It provides information for pricing, which is vital for Contract Negotiation and managing budgets.
  6. It improves the cycle time for designing, manufacturing, and repairing processes while elongating the life cycle of weapon systems.
  7. The information of items becomes centralized, and the DOD can easily manage it.
  8. In-built security protects proprietary information, thereby limiting its access only to those organizations that require the information.
  9. Multiple manufacturers are recorded on NSN, which helps to increase support.
  10. It helps to identify duplicate items.

Perhaps a major benefit of National Stock Numbers is that they provide a management system for the life cycle of items. As a result, manufacturers and all concerned can monitor items from requisition to the point of acquisition, maintenance, and then disposal.

Who Assigns the NSN?

The Logistics Information Services assigns all National Stock Numbers. They do so when the Military Service, International partners, and some Civil and Federal Agencies request them. Each number that is assigned is gotten from a thorough review process called cataloging.

This process involves naming each item, assigning it an FSC, describing the identifiable performance and characteristics data, and then assigning the National Stock Number. This information can be found in the FLIS (Federal Logistics Information System).

The Logistics Information Services manages the FLIS, a unit of the DLA (Defense Logistics Agency). The Logistics Information Services is solely responsible for assigning National Stock Numbers. You can click on to read more about the National Stock Number.


The Federal Logistics Information System is universally used for information concerning logistics. Also, the NSN serves as the universal logistics language. When used together, one can make sense of the quite confusing collection of supply parts and suppliers. They also provide affordable readiness as well as a reduction in the total cost of ownership.

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