Indian Defence

Decoding Number Plates of Indian Military Vehicle

All of you must have seen the convoy of the army truck or the patrolling Gypsy or the decorated vehicle of the General, Admiral, and Air Chief Marshal and noticed the difference in the number plate compared to a private vehicle.

Personal Car Number Plate
Military Vehicle number plate

Ever wondered what are the causes and whats the meaning behind it ?

The first reason is to differentiate between the public, a private vehicle from a vehicle allotted to defense. These vehicles are under the Ministry of Defence hence don’t require any special permit, formalities for transportation between states also many motor vehicle acts doesn’t apply on these vehicles.

Understanding Meaning

  • The plate numbering is started from an arrow pointing upward called Broad Arrow, this method was used by the British Government and as a part of colonial rule, the Indian Government also started using this format. It prevents the number from being read upside down and wrongly.
  • The two numbers followed by Broad Arrow are the date of manufacturing or the induction date of the respective vehicle .Eg. 08 – The year 2008.
  • The next alphabet indicates the class of the vehicle which generally tells about the type of vehicle.
    1. A – Two-wheel Vehicle
    2. B – Cars and Jeeps
    3. C – Light Motor Vehicle (1 or 2.5 tonnes)
    4. D – Lorry Trucks (3 -5 tonnes)
    5. E – Specialist Trucks, Cranes, etc
    6. X – Armour Vehicles
  • Next is the actual serial number of the vehicle here it is 177116.
  • The last alphabet is the check code. Here it is P.

You also have noticed the shining stars above the number plate. Well Officers ranking above Colonels i.e Brigadiers and above are allowed to use stars. One cannot use stars if the Officer is not in the car in his uniform.

  • The Chief of Staff General, Admiral, and Air Chief Marshal have four-star and a rectangular Tricolor flag inscribed under their respective field i.e Army, Navy, Air Force.
  • Second highest rank i.e Lt. General, Vice Admiral and Air Marshal have 3 stars and a full rectangular flag on their vehicles.
  • Major General, Rear Admiral, and Air Vice-Marshal have 2 stars and a dual-tipped flag on their vehicles followed by Brigadier, Air Commodore, and Commodore have 1 star and a triangular flag on their vehicles.
HM Ambassador Indian Army

The number of plates generally has black/green background whereas the stars are on red for Army, Sky blue for Airforce, and Navy Blue for Navy.

Also Read, Decoding India’s S-400 Deal


Karan Bisht

A defense aspirant trying to share and gain knowledge with you. Suggestions and corrections are welcomed in comment section.

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