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U.S. Air Force planning to purchase up to 18,000 iPads

February 10, 2012|By Deborah Netburn
  • Marine Capt. Jim Carlson reviews a satellite image on his iPad.
Marine Capt. Jim Carlson reviews a satellite image on his iPad. (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles…)

The U.S. Air Force is thinking about buying some iPads — somewhere between 63 and 18,000 of them.

In a notice posted on the Federal Business Opportunities website, the Air Force’s Air Mobility Command office says it is specifically interested in purchasing the iPad 2, but will also consider other brand-name tablet devices. The tablets will be used as electronic flight bags for flight crew members and trainers — replacing the hefty bag of manuals and navigation charts currently used by pilots and navigators that can weigh as much as 40 pounds.

“The airline industry is way ahead of us on this,” Capt. Kathleen Ferrero, a spokeswoman for the command, told Bloomberg News. “Most if not all the major airlines are already switching to tablets.”

Apple products are increasingly being embraced at the federal level, both by the military and other federal agencies. As of September the U.S. Marines had more than 30 iPads in cockpits across their fleet of helicopters and fighter jets, The Times reported, and just this week the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said its employees would be getting iPhones rather than BlackBerry smartphones.

However, in the case of the electronic flight bags, the Air Force is not Apple or bust. While the iPad 2 is the only tablet it mentions by name in the posting, the Air Mobility Office said it will also consider brand name or “equal devices.”

Remanufactured or “gray market” items will not be considered.

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