Air Force Buys 18,000 iPads for Air Mobility Command

The Air Force announced Friday a deal to buy up to 18,000 iPads. Bloomberg reported that the U.S. Air Force’s Air Mobility Command (AMC) awarded the US$9.36 million contract to Executive Technology Inc., a Phoenix-based computer services company.

The U.S. Air Force & the iPad

The contract is subject to funding and will be used to purchase up to 18,000 iPads. The AMC will use those iPads to replace flight manuals on transport flights managed by the Air Force group.

“That doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll purchase all 18,000,” AMC spokesperson Captain Kathleen Ferrero said in a statement. “It’s contingent upon funding requests and approval.”

The deal is for 32GB iPad 2 Wi-Fi models that the AMC will purchase from Executive Technology at $520 a piece. Those models retail for $599. 63 units have been purchased as part of the contract and will be delivered within 30 days.

This contract is not related to the deal the Air Force’s Special Operations Command (SOC) canceled in February. The SOC had been prepared to buy some 2,861 iPads for a similar use, but canceled when it was decided that the Russian-made GoodReader presented a potential security risk.

The AMC began the process to buy its iPads earlier this year. The group, which provides flight services to members of the Air Force, is following in the steps of several commercial air lines that are moving to the iPad in order to save weight on flights from flight manuals and other documentation used by its pilots.

The Air Force received 24 bids for the contract, but it didn’t say whether or not Apple participated directly in the process by entering its own bid. Price was part of the decision-making process that led to Executive Technology’s bid being chosen.