Air Force Drops Plans for iPad Flight Bags Over Security Concerns

| News

US Air Force officials have scrapped plans to buy over 2,800 iPads for use by pilots as electronic flight bags. The agency hasn’t said why it reversed its decision to use iPads, although there is speculation that the planned use of software from a Russia-based developer was behind the move.

Air Force scraps big iPad purchaseAir Force scraps big iPad purchase

Air Force Special Operations halted its iPad purchase plans two days after Nextgov asked about the inclusion of GoodReader as one of the apps for managing and reading PDF documents on the tablet device. GoodReader is a popular iPhone and iPad app that handles file transfers to and from the devices and online servers, and also includes support for viewing several document formats such as PDF.

The apparent problem with including GoodReader on the Air Force’s list of approved apps is that the developer, Good.iware, is based in Moscow. Presumably the government sees that as a potential security risk.

Army smartphone project director Michael McCarthy has expressed concerns over using GoodReader, too, citing concerns over the integrity of the application supply chain. He also raised concerns over using iPads because of Apple’s reliance on China for building the hardware — an issue that he’d have to deal with for nearly every tablet device the military considers.

Captain Kristen Duncan, Air Force spokesperson, wouldn’t confirm GoodReader was behind the decision to back away from the iPad. She did, however, say the agency is still reviewing its options.

“We continue to look at each component of the [electronic flight bag] program to ensure we do the right thing for our airmen, don’t introduce unnecessary risk into operations and provide the best tools available to conduct the mission,” she said.

Yuri Selukoff, GoodReader’s developer, said the app doesn’t pose a security risk to the U.S. or any other country. “GoodReader doesn’t have any malicious code built into it,” he said. “Having said that, I am open to any security/penetration tests that anyone would be willing to perform on the app.”

He added, “Someone’s still living in 1970, aren’t they?”

Popular TMO Stories


Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

With such ridiculous anti-foreign bias, you’d think Lou Dobbs was the Commander of the Joint Chiefs. Funniest thing is that it would probably cost the Air Force less to clear and hire American citizen developers with all the right clearances and merit badges to just clone this software than it did to uncover the conspiracy of some dude in Moscow without an adequately documented supply chain in his Xcode folder.


Well, they could follow the lead of the Pakistani Air Force…

Lee Dronick

The planned use of software from a Russia-based developer was behind the move.

Okay USA developers, make your move.

Pat Dissent

Or, and I know this is wild idea, we could do thirty seconds of research using this wild, new invention called the “Internet”, and find out the truth. The truth being : the procurement process was not followed correctly, so the Air Force called it off and started over.

Not as much fun as making stuff up and engaging in rampant speculation, but way, way more accurate.


Think Pat Dissent has it about right.  The AFSOC order most likely got rolled up into the Air Mobility Command purchase, the crap about good reader is nonsense.  AFSOC would not be the lead command for EFB.  The iBook app can read PDF so I doubt the goodreader would result in an order cancelation.


PDFPen is made by a US developer, as is iBooks.  PDFPen for iPad is relatively recently released, but the developer has been around for a very long time, and they are based in Oregon.  iBooks, which could be used as a reader of PDFs, is made by Apple.  Hopefully, they know all this.


Is Adobe Reader not available for the iPad?


Is Adobe Reader not available for the iPad?

Ya, it is. Adobe has been hit with a lot of security issues, though - though probably not on the iPad yet. Reader doesn’t do annotations, though. GoodReader does allow annotations, as does PDFPen.

Log in to comment (TMO, Twitter or Facebook) or Register for a TMO account