U.S. Air Force buying up to 18,000 iPads

The U.S. Air Force has ordered over $9 million dollars worth of 32GB iPads to use as digital manuals and navigation charts for aircraft pilots and crews in the Air Mobility Command. Bloomberg quotes:

“Aircrews fly nonstop worldwide missions and require access to flight publications both on and off the aircraft, throughout all phases of flight,” [Captain Kathleen Ferrero] said in an e-mail. The so-called electronic flight bags will help crews operate more effectively and safely, and support the Pentagon’s efficiency goals, she said.

Although that contract would let the Air Force buy up to 18,000 iPads, how many they actually get funded and approved for remains to be seen. They currently have 63 iPads on order for testing.

The Air Force didn't specifically go after Apple's iPad either. It was an open evaluation and price sounds like it was a significant factor. The Air Force will be getting a discount of about $70 per iPad off the 32 GB model.

The FAA recently approved iPads for use in U.S civil aviation as well, and Alaska Airlines and American Airlines are already putting them to use. So it looks like the future of digital manuals and navigation is well under way.

Now we just need the Firefox/Stealth-like super fighters to hurry up and get here so we can all enjoy a little thought-controlled iPad fun...

Source: Bloomberg