U.S. Air Force backs off plans to focus exclusively on Apple iPad for electronic flight bags

“The Air Force Special Operations Command has backed off plans to focus exclusively on Apple iPad tablet computers to equip its flight crews with electronic flight bags that hold digital maps and technical manuals,” Bob Brewin reports for Nextgov.

“In December 2011, the command said in a contract justification and approval notice that only iPads met its requirements to provide tablet computers to 2,861 crew members,” Brewin reports. “A three-month test last year showed that the iPad “outmatched all peer competitors — not only meeting but exceeding AFSOC mission specifications.”

Brewin reports, “Maj. Kristi Beckman, a command spokeswoman, told Nextgov in an email that the command has now decided to take a more open approach to its tablet procurement. ‘During our initial evaluation, the iPad was the best available commercial off-the-shelf product for our needs. We are, however, platform agnostic and fully expect improvements across the commercial market to develop in a variety of areas that will increase our capabilities,’ she wrote.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Translation of Maj. Beckman’s statement: “We can hardly wait for iPad 3, either!”

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  1. “fully expect improvements across the commercial market to develop in a variety of areas…”? Really? Do they read? Maybe 2 years before a Windows device that’ll be buggy, Andriod in litigation/royalty payment backlog, tablet makers forfeiting manufacturing or business outright. Major, you need to clean the visor on your flight helmet…

    1. Kindle Fire with a big ass magnifying glass. One click ordering of their charts. I believe that at this time only iPad has been approved by FAA. No matter, If AF will pay $5k for a toilet seat, they will pay for Android crap to flush down it when it gets a vrus and craps out.

  2. Although they may be able to eventually find a lower sticker price for a ‘tablet’ they will pay for it with virus infected, incompatible, OS fragmented junk that potentially may prevent some major equipment from returning from missions.

    Good move there?

  3. The phrases, “a more open approach to its tablet procurement…” and “platform agnostic,” reek of Google and make me certain they got into this. If the Air Force follows their own guidelines it will be 100% iPad, unless the military is willing to fsck up their operations and equipment just because those in power have been misled or bribed. It’s happened before.

  4. Yep, somebody got to somebody. Google, Dell, Motorola, one of them cried to their Senator or Congressman and said it wasn’t fair. This why so much of the gear our Soldiers get isn’t the best gear or the gear they want / need – its what Congress wants them to have.

    1. The United States school system is no different. Utterly PATHETIC!

      utterly: completely and without qualification; used informally as intensifiers.

      pathetic: deserving or inciting pity; inspiring mixed contempt and pity; inspiring scornful pity.

  5. Tranlation of Maj. Beckman’s statement: “The U.S. Gov’t and Military are completely owned by Microsoft, so we will be g**d****d if we’re going to use any of this Apple sh*t. We will find a way thru delays and reduction of requirements for ANYTHING other than Apple products to become our standard.”

    There, MDN, I fixed it for you.

  6. It’s a technical non-issue. The iPad obviously outperformed other devices. If it’s up to the flight crews to choose, they’ll still go with an iPad over one of those really rockin’ DIM Playbook things.

  7. IIRC, in the book about Google “In the Plex”, there was mention that many in the President Obama’s (Democrats) staff are ex Google employees.

    Could be they are using their influence, or it is a continuation from past MS usage (ie, waiting for Win8 tablets).

    Does seem a fishy turn about decision.

  8. Actually it may be just a “mis-spoke” event. The government tends to have to indicate that its open to the best equipment at the best cost…… even if it plans to buy Apple, it must indicate that its ….. open to all suppliers….. it just does not have to buy from them.

    Just a thought,

  9. There’s politics going on in Government. I’m shocked! Shocked, I tell you!

    The iPad should be the tool of choice for every electronic flight bag, every maintenance manual, every mission planning system. But it won’t. Because Apple isn’t part of the military-industrial complex and won’t play by their rules. I can see Apple responding to a gazillion page RFP that places the winning products Intellectual Property in the public domain “You want iPads, go to the Apple Store or Best Buy or Wal-Mart. OK, we’ll give you a bulk rate. But none of the other crap, no yellow paint, no removal of the Apple logo, no matte screen.”

    Good for Apple, bad for the grunts.

  10. I don’t understand why they can’t commit. They have no problem committing to Windows exclusively. Not only do they require government employees use Windows, but also anyone accessing a government web site (can’t submit a grant application with Mac OS). I think the real problem is committing to something not made by Microsoft.

  11. AFSOC procurements are not micro-managed by Congress; if the commander wants it, he gets it.

    I believe the REAL problem is that iOS has no SmartCard support, which is a DoD requirement from IT devices; there are some accessories in the pipeline to address this, but they’re not available yet.

  12. This likely was started by a technically illiterate general or congresscritter who asked ‘Why only Apple? Aren’t there other tablets out there that are just as good?” This is not the kind of question that you can answer “No,” to, given from whom the question came. So the command decided that they would certainly be “platform-agnostic,” and that they’d be happy to use ANY tablet out there that’s as good as the iPad.

    Which, currently, means…. the iPad. And likely for the indefinite future, too.

    1. Should be noted that oversight committees approve of low bids & industrial discounts, and someone on the inside could’ve slipped the tip to the USAF procurers, that a truckload of BlackBerry PlayBooks, is bein’ shopped around, cheap. (You know, the world’s first professional-grade tablet)

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