Air Force Special Operations Command cancels purchase of 2,861 iPad 2 units

“The Air Force Special Operations Command canceled its planned acquisition of Apple iPad tablet computers last week, two days after receiving a query from Nextgov about the inclusion of Russian-developed security and documents reader software specified in procurement documents,” Bob Brewin reports for Nextgov.

“Officials originally planned to acquire 2,861 iPad2 tablet computers to serve as electronic flight bags, storing digital versions of paper charts and technical manuals,” Brewin reports. “The procurement — kicked off in January — specified the use of GoodReader software developed in Russia to meet mission security requirements.”

Brewin reports, “Capt. Kristen Duncan, an AFSOC spokeswoman, said Tuesday the command ‘continues to explore options to develop the electronic flight bag program. Included in this continual evaluation is the procurement aspect of providing tablets to the field.’ She added, ‘We continue to look at each component of the [electronic flight bag] program to ensure we do the right thing for our airmen, don’t introduce unnecessary risk into operations and provide the best tools available to conduct the mission.'”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “FFS” for the heads up.]


    1. Most of the tech world knows (believes strongly) that iPad 3 is less than two weeks away from announcement/release. Absolutely spot-on, shawn. Why in the world would the Air Force want a tablet that is about to be “previous-gen”? My experience with government purchasing agencies is that the very TITLE of the iPad 3 requires that the former PO be withdrawn, rewritten, and resubmitted with the NEW identifier . . . iPad 3 instead of iPad 2. Simple.

      1. Any device will need to go through a Gov’t testing and certification process to get accredited prior to any large scale deployment. There can be some smaller pilot tests but deploying 2800 devices is not small per se. I would not be surprised that the iPad 2 was just now getting through a 6 or 12 month certification process.

        Things can move slow in certain areas of the military but its nice to see the AF acquisition authority was, and hopefully still will consider the iPad.

      2. Apple often makes good deals on soon-to-be-discontinued products. Many schools are often just one product off the current ones. My guess is that they may have gone for special pricing even better than the simple quantity purchase would have given them

        Or not.

        Or, they just don’t follow Apple news as everyone here does. They may still be clueless about the upcoming announcement. There is, of course, talk about Apple keeping the 2 while also releasing the 3 anyway. And the 2 is a pretty good product likely meeting what the AF needs anyway.

    1. You have way too much faith in the military. They are looking at an Android POS tablet instead. Then they will order a stock unit from Samsung, have a military contractor modify it to be more like the iPad and then add special military software, case harden it, paint it in camouflage desert colours and then pay four times as much as the iPad for it.

    1. And Sergey Brin is co-founder of Google. Obviously, Google’s software is potentially dangerous.

      Evernote, Parallels virtualization, Kaspesky Labs, and even Cut The Rope may expose military data to the KGB!

    1. I don’t understand when they say the iPad would cost too much. I thought the military was notorious for over-spending taxpayer dollars. You’d figure the military would be able to justify a high-quality device as the best advantage for its troops.

    2. I am concerned about this statement…”about the inclusion of Russian-developed security and documents reader software specified in procurement documents,”

      I know there globalization but we now need to outsource programming to the Russians? I mean yeah the cold war maybe over as the US vs USSR but the way President for life Putin has been acting lately, it may come done to the US vs Russian Federation. What next? Combat uniforms from Peoplr’s Republic of China? Wait it is already happening!

    1. It needs to have encryption. There are plenty of other options though for them to still use the iPad. My guess is they’re figuring this out and will come back.

      In the meantime, GoodReader *is* a wonderful app. I use it all the time.

    1. Personally, I no longer refer to those wretched phones and slabs as Android. From now on, I will refer to the miserable, cork-soaking competition (and I ask that you do the same) as:


  1. Why not just change the app from GoodReader to something else not developed in Russia? Cancelling the iPad orders because of the wrong 3rd party app choice is like cancelling your dinner plans for the evening because you can’t eat your food off a certain kind of plate. What a joke.

  2. In this era of globalization, I bet the hardware and software in the iPad comes from at least twenty different countries. If we only want stuff that is 100% made in the USA, then the Air Force better settle for an abacus, pencil, and paper.

    I really hope the Air Force has a better reason for canceling the order than the fact that one of the apps was written by a Russian.

  3. Someone else will buy those 2,681 iPad 2’s. It will only take a few seconds. No worries.

    ASOC should have continued with the buy and funded a U.S. coder to customize a PDF reader.

  4. Oh, my! What are they going to do when they figure out the security/crypto software adopted as AES by NIST for all gov’t and commercial applications — including encoding Top Secret documents — was written by two Belgians. Lions and tigers and bears! Oh, my!

    Let’s see: Nextgov reports that Nextgov made an “inquiry.” Then two days later the order was ‘cancelled’ and “The command did not provide any explanation for the move in its notice on the Federal Business Opportunities website.” So obviously, it must be because Nextgov asked about Russian PDF reading software. Right…

  5. Exactly!
    The military is perfectly capable of coding and distributing its own iPad apps, especially a mission critical one like an encrypted document reader for flight schedules!
    The iOS walled garden would help minimize the risk of malware downloaded by soldiers, but they shouldn’t rely on third party apps for core functionality.

  6. The software in question is excellent, regardless of where it was created. And like was noted already, the device is assembled in Communist China.

    Frickin paranoid people. Have the NSA give it a look. They write the security protocols for all secure government communications.

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