In what’s fast becoming a trend, the US Air Force is joining a number of other entities in welcoming the iPad into the cockpit.
According to Nextgov, the Air Force Special Operations Command is interested in purchasing upwards of 2800 iPad 2 tablets to replace flight bags which are usually very bulky and include reference material such as operating manuals and aeronautical charts.
AMC (Air Mobility Command) said in a notice posted on the Federal Business Opportunities website Thursday that it planned to buy “a minimum of 63 and a maximum of 18,000, iPad 2, Brand Name or Equal devices” for the crews that fly cargo aircraft such as the C-5 Galaxy and C-17 Globemaster. Lt. Col. Glen Roberts, AMC public affairs director, said the command “is looking for a tablet device, not necessarily an iPad.”
The command intends to issue a request for proposals at an unspecified date to buy the tablets at the lowest price through a firm, fixed price, indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract.
So while it’s possible the Air Force might purchase iPad-equivalent devices, the slew of airlines that have already welcomed the iPad on board leads us to assume that the USAF will hop on the iPad bandwagon as well.
Commenting on the impetus for the initiative, Major General Rick Martin said that replacing paper-based flight bags with iPads will not only save time and money, but will “enhance operational effectiveness” as well.
Maj. Marc Blankenbicker, the lead fire control officer for the KC-130J detachment, said the iPad can store the equivalent of 500 grid reference charts. “Instead of scanning sheets of paper, we type in a sector name or a four-digit grid coordinate and the iPad will center on the desired area,” he said.
Notably, Apple’s iOS, which powers the iPad, hasn’t yet received security clearance from the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The report adds that iOS will likely not pass security muster and given the proverbial green light until August 2012 at the earliest.