U.S. Air Force ready to buy up to 18,000 Apple iPads for cargo plane crews

“The United States Air Force is apparently ready to follow the lead of commercial airlines and jump on the tablet bandwagon. A recent notice indicates the Air Force wants to buy thousands of Apple iPad 2s for the crews that fly cargo aircraft,” David Needle reports for TabTimes.

“The goal is to replace the paper charts and technical manuals the crew now has to carry,” Needle reports. “American Airlines and a number of other commercial carriers have already started to replace pilots manuals, which can total hundreds of pounds, with iPads.”

Needle reports, “The Air Force’s Air Mobility Command’s (AMC) planned purchase could be the largest single federal order for a tablet, according to the site NextGov, which reported on the deal after seeing a notice at the Federal Business Opportunities website. The notice said AMC wants to buy ‘a minimum of 63 and a maximum of 18,000, iPad 2, Brand Name or Equal devices’ for cargo aircraft such as the C-5 Galaxy and C-17 Globemaster.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Only the government could have a procurement range of 63-18,000. There is no “Equal Device” to the iPad 2, so give that one up. And, if “Brand Name” is your only criterion, you need more criteria.

Related articles:
U.S. Air Force backs off plans to focus exclusively on Apple iPad for electronic flight bags – January 13, 2012
FAA approves iPads in the cockpit; American Airlines to start Friday – December 13, 2011
All Nippon Airways to deploy 6,000 Apple iPads to train stewards – September 22, 2011
Qantas trials Apple iPads as in-flight entertainment option – September 15, 2011
United Continental pilots get 11,000 Apple iPads – August 23, 2011
British Airways brings new dimension to customer service using Apple iPads – August 18, 2011
Delta gives Apple iPads to pilots as electronic flight bag replacements – August 17, 2011
Apple’s revolutionary iPad creates the paperless cockpit – July 5, 2011
Alaska Airlines pilots using Apple iPads in cockpit – May 23, 2011
Mission-critical Apple iPads in cockpits may hasten end of era for paper charts – March 7, 2011
FAA authorizes use of Jeppesen app on iPad to replace paper aeronautical charts – February 16, 2011
Fokker and Navtech introduces Electronic Flight Bag hardware for Apple’s revolutionary iPad – January 28, 2011


    1. Wouldn’t the Kindle Fire be the best option and they could buy twice as many to fit within the Defense Budget? Just kidding.

      The iHaters always say that the military has to buy from the lowest bidder or something so they get the most for the taxpayer’s dollar. The iHaters are still going to say that the U.S. military is buying “useless and overpriced toys” to take care of their business. It’s absolutely amazing the number of users from all fields that are purchasing iPads despite the fact that the Wintards swear Windows tablets are the only devices qualified for anything important.

      1. The only thing Windows tablets are qualified to do is to top off the pile o’ Android tablets they’re usin’ to build that Great Wall of Mexico, to keep out the illegals, down Arizona way.

    2. There’s your “or equal”.

      Having worked some in the DoD software world, “or equal” means it must meet or exceed every measurement; it cannot be less than any parameter unless a waiver is sought and granted.

      As it is pretty much assumed that the iPad 3 will meet or exceed every parameter of the iPad 2, it will be OK. Presumably also the iPad 4, 5, …

    1. MS has already missed the boat, ship, (aircraft). Even worse, they have not come out with App’s for their flagship MS Office products for the iPads. Not that I would use them but there is a whole generation of consumers that are figuring out they don’t need MS Office programs an longer. Most would have been happy to buy Word for the iPads, iPhone, etc. just because they are familiar with it. But now, they have figured out how to get along just fine without it. Balmer is an idiot….oh, I mean brilliant.

      Yeah, I like their stategy, I like it a lot.

  1. @MDN I understand your take, but it’s kind of the nature of Gov’t bids/procurement. You have to use specific language and write it as though you have no “bias” so when an “alternative” comes along, you don’t get yelled at by the public/Congress on how you’re “wasting” money. I still remember the $3,000 coffee pots in the ’80s that needed to withstand something like 4Gs of gravity.

  2. I wouldn’t get too excited about this…

    As an Air Force member, (with some insight to how purchasing is done in government) that phrase “brand name or equal” will most certainly mean that Apple does not get the contract. See, some piece of crap android tablet vendor will come in and, based on the tech specs, make the arguement that “we can do the same thing, and at less cost per unit!!!” Remember, the contract goes to the lowest bidder. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have to be typing this on an ancient Dell that struggles to run Windoze 7.

    1. One just hopes there is more to the criteria than a list of “tech specs”.

      For one thing, hasn’t the FAA only approved the iPad for pilots to use as chart replacements? Are the Air Force subject to this or not? Or do they relish cutting corners and taking their own lives and the lives of others into their hands?

      What about battery life and reliability? What about security and malware? What about how businesses do not like Android for the work place since it is less secure/reliable?

      One would hope that these practical, testable things come into it, and if the procurement office can’t make a cogent argument for spending more tax payers dollars for greater proven value, then they ought to get another job.

      1. The tech specs are written in such a way that only iPads will qualify. But the contract doesn’t meet the legal terms of “competitive” If some alternative company isn’t given the chance to show their wares.

  3. So if the pilot of the plane can use his/her iPad in the COCKPIT of the plane – WHY can’t I use mine in economy class during take off and landing?

    That rule is so ridiculous!!

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