Back in December of 2011, the US Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) announced that only iPads met the requirements to provide tablet computers to 2,861 crew members. AFSOC had done a three-month test last year with the result that the iPad "outmatched all peer competitors -- not only meeting but exceeding AFSOC mission specifications." Well, the specter of defense budget cuts must be staring AFSOC in the eye, since the command is now reneging on its plans to exclusively purchase iPads as electronic flight bags.
AFSOC spokeswoman Major Kristi Beckman says that the command is now going to take an open approach to tablet procurement. Quoted on Nextgov, Beckman said that "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."
The electronic flight bags will be used in a manner similar to those carried by commercial airline pilots, since the command has concerns about the security of data. That means that the devices would carry digital navigation charts and flight information publications that are publicly available.
As usual, what is good enough for the commercial market -- in this case the thousands of airline pilots flying for United/Continental, Alaska, American, and other airlines who are using iPads in the cockpit -- apparently isn't good enough for the military. Anybody up for an overly expensive Android-powered toilet seat?