Back in mid-February, the Air Force began looking into the possibility of ordering as many as 18,000 iPads to lighten the loads of its flight crews. After last week, when the Special Operations Command decided to cancel its order of 2,861 iPads over security concerns over a Russian made app that was included in the electronic flight bag, it was unclear if the order for the iPads for the Air Mobility Command would go through.
As of today it was announced that the Air Force Air Mobility Command (AMC) decided to go through with the order, and had awarded a $9.36 million contract to purchase those iPad 2s (up to 18,000) for use in cargo aircraft.
24 companies placed bids to score the lucrative military contract, and the command’s final decision was based on the firm offering the lowest price.
The contract went to Executive Technology Inc., a computer service company based in Phoenix, Arizona. The contract price is well below Apple’s retail asking price, allowing the Air Force to snap these up at a lower cost.
According to military spokeswoman Captain Kathleen Ferrero the AMC will use the 32GB WiFi version of Apple’s tablets as electronic flight bags aboard cargo aircraft in its transport and refueling wing. The tablets will help meet Pentagon efficiency goals as well as helping navigators and pilots operate more effectively on the flight deck.
The contract is designed to allow for the purchase of the iPad 2s over the span of one year, though the order is contingent on fund requests and approval, so the Air Force isn’t locked into the full purchase order of 18,000 iPads.
Several airlines, such as Delta and American Airlines have recently gone paperless with great success, replacing heavy flight manuals with the lighter tablets, so it’s no surprise that the Air Force decided to go the same route. Replacing paper manuals with tablets both improves efficiency and reduces fuel costs.