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The United States is increasingly participating in coalition military operations. Coalition support may be required for successful military operations and in most such operations the United States desires to share the burden. U.S. allies recognize the increased security that coalition operations can bring. Because interoperability is a key element in coalitions, RAND undertook research to help the Air Force identify potential interoperability problems that may arise in coalition air operations and to suggest nonmateriel and technology-based solutions. The research focus is on command, control,communications, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C3ISR) systems in out-of-NATO-area operations. The authors' review of recent coalition air operations found that interoperability problems arose because of differences in doctrine, incompatible communications, different planning and execution systems, and different weapon system capabilities. For example, allies may lack sufficient all-weather, day and night precision-guided weapons. The authors suggest the following to increase interoperability in coalition operations: (1) common or harmonized doctrine for combined joint task force operations, from planning through assessment, (2) compatible or adaptable concepts of operation for airborne surveillance and control, (3) common information-sharing standards and compatible tactical communication systems, and (4) expert, experienced personnel who understand the capabilities of coalition partners. From a technology perspective and cost considerations, C3ISR initiatives appear to offer the best opportunities for interoperability enhancements.

Table of Contents

  • Preface

  • Figures

  • Tables

  • Summary

  • Acknowledgements

    Acknowledgments

  • Acronyms

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    A Broad Definition of Interoperability

  • Chapter Three

    Interoperability Challenges in Recent Coalition Operations

  • Chapter Four

    New Trends That May Affect Future Interoperability

  • Chapter Five

    Command and Control

  • Chapter Six

    Space Developments

  • Chapter Seven

    Air Surveillance and Control

  • Chapter Eight

    Ground Surveillance and Control

  • Chapter Nine

    Tactical Data Links

  • Chapter Ten

    Fighters and Weapons

  • Chapter Eleven

    Illustrative Military Value

  • Chapter Twelve

    Concluding Observations and Suggested Actions

  • Appendix A

    Allies' Participation and Contributions in Recent Coalition Operations

  • Appendix B

    New Operational Concepts from Joint Vision 2010

  • Appendix C

    MIDS Case Study

  • Appendix D

    Notional Fighter Deployment

  • Bibliography

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was performed under the auspices of RAND's Project AIR FORCE division.

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