US Air Force gets $9 million go-ahead to buy up to 18,000 iPads

by Doug Drinkwater

March 5 2012

The US Air Force plans to use the iPad 2s to replace paper-bound manuals and navigation charts
The US Air Force plans to use the iPad 2s to replace paper-bound manuals and navigation charts

The US Air Force has awarded a $9.36 million contract to buy up to 18,000 Apple iPad 2 tablets.

Air Mobility Command today revealed that it awarded the contract to Executive Technology, a Phoenix-based computer services company, which will be in charge of rolling out the tablets.

As previously reported, the service will use the tablets to replace the paper manuals and navigation charts used by aircraft pilots. “Aircrews fly nonstop worldwide missions and require access to flight publications both on and off the aircraft, throughout all phases of flight,” said military spokesman, Captain Kathleen Ferrero, in an email to Bloomberg. Ferrero added that the electronic flight bags will help crews operate more efficiently and safely, and said that the purchased iPads – which have 32GB of embedded memory - were discounted from $599 to $520.

The contract stipulates that the Air Force can buy as many as 18,000 of the tablets within a year of the award date. “That doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll purchase all 18, 000,” said Ferrero. “It’s contingent upon funding requests and approval.”

The Air Force has already purchased 63 iPad 2s from Executive Technology, and is to put these devices under 30 days of testing. Ferrero told Bloomberg that the Air Force is not tied to Apple for future tablets, so has the flexibility of choosing from a number of different vendors.

Just last week, a separate iPad order - for 3,000 tablets - was cancelled by the US Air Force. It is thought that this was largely down to security concerns.

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