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The origin and meaning of Zulu time.

Updated on January 17, 2011

We have all seen on occasion a military movie starts with something like this:

Vietnam, 3:25 Zulu

What does that mean?

Many people think that it is the local time where the action takes place, and others simply believe it is a concept for the sentence sound better, but none of these reasons is correct.

To explain the real meaning, we must know that the planet is divided into 24 time zones of 15 ° (15x24 = 360 º), which are named with combinations of three letters and digits.

The most common names of the spindles are:

GMT: Greenwich Mean Time
UTC: Coordinated Universal Time
CET: Central European Time
PST: Time of the U.S. Pacific coast

Numbers indicate the universal time difference: UTC-2, UTC-7, UTC +3 

Also be named with a letter of the alphabet associated with central meridian of each zone: 

A: 15 º E 
B: 30 º E 
C: 45 º E 
D: 60 º E 
E: 75 º E 
F: 90 º E 
G: 105 º E 
H: 120 º E 
I: 135 º E 
K: 150 º E 
L: 165 º E 
M: 180 º E 
N: 15 º W 
O: 30 º W 
P: 45 º W 
Q: 60 º W 
R: 75 º W 
S: 90 º W 
T: 105 º W 
U: 120 º W 
V: 135 º W 
W: 150 º W 
X: 165 º W 
Y: 180 º W 
Z: 0 º 

And here is where we find the famous Z and that the time is GMT, UTC and Z are actually the same. 

Well, we almost have the true meaning. Now we have to introduce another term is also known for peliculeros reasons, the famous Aeronautic Phonetic Alphabet. This alphabet is used to spell words on the radio to avoid confusion in the transmission of messages. Here you have the complete alphabet and a sample message. 

A Alpha 
B Bravo 
C Charlie 
D Delta 
E Echo 
F Foxtrot 
G Golf 
H Hotel 
I India 
J Juliet 
K Kilo 
L Lima 
Mike M 
N November 
O Oscar 
P Papa 
Q Quebec 
R Romeo 
S Sierra 
T Tango 
U Uniform 
V Victor 
W Whiskey 
X X-ray 
Y Yankee 
Z Zulu 

Example: Mike Echo Golf Alpha Bravo Uniform Sierra Tango Alpha Lima Lima Echo Romeo Echo Sierra India Sierra Tango Oscar Mike 

Therefore, joining the explanations of the different time zones with Phonetic Alphabet Aeronautic have to Zulu is the word chosen for the Z and in this case a Zulu time is the same as UTC which means UTC + Z + Zulu means UTC +0. Ie UTC. 

As a curiosity, we have to say that in the movies Zulu name appears when displaying the hours is incorrect, because such words are reserved only for oral language and written once, there is no confusion. For this reason, we would say "Uniform Tango Charlie" instead of the correct UTC.


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