This is just an Excerpt from a larger document, click here to view the entire document.Evolution of Interoperability Concepts
The term interoperability has evolved over the years. It began primarily focused on equipment-level interoperability, soon was expanded to include inter-service and allied force interoperability, and has now evolved to include a "system of systems" perspective.
Equipment-level interoperability. For many years, interoperability was viewed as the ability of systems or key elements of systems to be able to work with each other. Interface standards, for example, ensure that items will properly work with each other. Frequency allocation ensures that communications will not be inadvertently jammed and that friendly forces can communicate with each other.
Inter-service and allied forces. At another level, interoperability addresses the ability of forces to work together. Developing small arms to use the same size ammunition, for example, facilitates joint operation of multi-national forces. Developing Air Force and Navy aircraft to use the same fueling nozzles and receptacles and their engines to use compatible fuel allows aircraft from either service to be refueled at any Air Force or Navy facility (or in flight).
System of Systems. As systems have become more complex, and as we have developed ways for systems to work together to form a "system of systems," interoperability has taken on another, more sophisticated meaning.
Strategic-thinking now requires military leaders to think in terms of capabilities, such as Time Critical Strike. Achieving such a capability entails many systems working in concert. For example, satellite, unmanned aerial vehicles, and Special Forces reconnaissance teams may be needed to find and identify a target. The target information must then be relayed in real time via communications systems to a command and control center (C2C).
The C2C must then combine this information with other information, such as the status and location of forces, select the weapon system or combination of systems that can most quickly hit the target, and order a strike. The selected systems must then move to a strike position (which will most likely be different for each system), acquire the target, bring its weapons to bear, and strike. Figure 1 gives one idea of how this system of systems might look.
Figure 1. Conceptual Picture of a Time Critical Strike Capability