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Air Force Command To Buy Tablets

Military unit will replace paper manuals and navigational charts with up to 18,000 iPads or other tablet devices.

Elizabeth Montalbano

February 7, 2012

2 Min Read

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The Air Mobility Command is the second Air Force unit to replace paper-based flight information manuals with tablet devices.

The command, which provides global air mobility, cargo delivery, and humanitarian support, aims to secure between 63 and 18,000 tablet devices to serve as Electronic Flight Bags (EFBs) for flight crew members and trainers, according to a post on FedBizOpps.gov and first reported by NextGov. EFBs are devices to replace the paper materials found in an airline pilot's crew bag, which include operating manuals and navigational charts.

An Air Force spokesperson declined to comment on the wide range in the number of devices the military arm plans to procure, saying only it was related to distribution of the tablets and that a full request for proposal (RFP) for the procurement would be available soon, most likely in the next week.

[ Tablets are infiltrating every avenue of government. See U.S. Marines Say Yes Sir to Tablets. ]

He also would not disclose the size of the award, referring to the forthcoming RFP for that information.

Last month in a similar move, the Air Force Special Operations Command said it would procure 2,861 black iPad 2 devices from an authorized Apple reseller to maintain and update the Department of Defense's Flight Information Publications (FLIP) electronically as a cost-cutting measure.

IPad 2s are one of the options for the Air Mobility Command procurement, although it also said it would consider "brand name or equal" devices as long as they are new items supported by a manufacturer's warranty and not from the gray market, according to the presolicitation.

The unit will award a Firm-Fixed-Price (FFP) Indefinite-Delivery Indefinite-Quantity (IDIQ) contract to a single vendor to fulfill the procurement.

The Air Force's moves to electronic manuals follow the aviation industry, which has begun to do so after the Federal Aviation Administration in December approved iPads for use in the cockpit during commercial flights.

They also bolster military-wide moves to increasingly approve tablet devices for use to support broader access to applications. The Department of Defense recently approved a version of the Android OS running on a Dell Streak 5 tablet for use across the department and will begin distributing them this year.

InformationWeek's 2012 Government IT Innovators program will feature the most innovative government IT organizations in the 2012 InformationWeek 500 issue and on InformationWeek.com. Does your organization have what it takes? The nomination period for 2012 Government IT Innovators closes April 27.

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