The Air Force Special Operations Command has revised its plans to exclusively use Apple iPads in order to equip its flight crews with electronic flight bags that hold digital maps and technical manuals.
In December 2011, the command said in a contract justification and approval notice that only iPads met its requirements to provide tablet computers to 2,861 crew members. A three-month test last year showed that the iPad “outmatched all peer competitors — not only meeting but exceeding AFSOC mission specifications.”
Maj. Kristi Beckman, a command spokeswoman, told Nextgov in an email that the command has now decided to take a more open approach to its tablet procurement. “During our initial evaluation, the iPad was the best available commercial off-the-shelf product for our needs. We are, however, platform agnostic and fully expect improvements across the commercial market to develop in a variety of areas that will increase our capabilities,” she wrote.
Citing security concerns, Maj. Beckman said the electronic flight bags will only “carry data already publicly available while the command continues to explore solutions across the information technology enterprise to ensure adequate data protection/assurance in a mobile environment.”
Capt. Kristen Duncan, another command spokeswoman, said publicly available data could include, but is not limited to, digital navigation charts provided by the Jeppesen division of Boeing Co. as well as National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency flight information publications.