Allied F-35s operating around the world stand as the most recognized symbols of the United States’ effort to strengthen modern coalition airpower. In a world where modern, capable threats are proliferating, these fifth generation fighters are a key tool for U.S. and allied leaders as they work to ensure shared interests are defended. Due to its revolutionary capabilities, the potential for the F-35 is far more expansive than any other combat aircraft built to date. However, to fully harness the attributes of both U.S. and allied F-35s, it is crucial to ensure aircraft interoperability.
This paper outlines the challenges, from both a technical and policy vantage, to F-35 integration and provides a path forward based on the following areas: improving technical communications and data sharing, improving allied tactics through smart disclosure and training, and building better coalition maintenance and sortie generation practices. The paper concludes with a vignette describing a future conflict demonstrating how an integrated allied F-35 force might fight— with interoperability standing as a vital attribute.