The Air Mobility Command expects to take delivery of tablet computers capable of displaying digital flight charts this April and plans to go completely paperless by December, Gen. Raymond Johns, AMC commander, said in an internal message that Nextgov obtained.
In January, AMC kicked off a procurement for up to 18,000 Apple iPad 2 or equivalent computers to serve as electronic flight bags, which will store and display navigation charts and technical manuals for crews.
In a message sent to all AMC wing commanders in December 2011, Johns said the command's original electronic flight bag request for proposals focused on specific hardware, which he did not specify, and had be revised. "I was concerned that our RFP as written geared toward one specific platform might not have held up to public and private scrutiny," Johns wrote.
The Air Force Special Operations Command specified iPads in its original request for proposals for electronic flight bags last month. AFSOC canceled that procurement on Feb. 16, two days after receiving a query from Nextgov about its stated plans to use GoodReader software, which is developed in Russia, for mission security and as a document reader.
The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency's Office of Aeronautical Navigation started developing digital flight charts in the summer of 2011, and a beta version of the Apple iOS has been available since January, according to NGA spokesman Kenneth White. He said the Apple version of NGA's digital flight charts is available on DVD and is downloadable to selected users over the Defense Department's unclassified network.
White said due to limited programming resources "we could not support simultaneous parallel development on multiple platforms . . . development is ongoing for applications compatible with Android and Windows platforms as well, and testing will begin on these platforms in the near future to ensure we provide our customers with a platform-neutral solution."
NGA is working with both AMC and AFSOC on their electronic flight bag projects and also supports digital chart projects by the other services, according to White.
He said NGA does not use GoodReader for its flight charts and developed its own stand-alone application to allow users to view flight charts.
White declined to comment on any security concerns about the iPad, which is made in China, as NGA does not set hardware policy, a role handled by the Defense Information Systems Agency. DISA said earlier this month that it plans to issue security guidelines governing the use of smartphones and tablets by August.