Air Force Special Operations Command awards tablet computer deal

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Contract goes to the small business that won the Air Mobility Command iPad procurement.

This story has been updated.

The Air Force Special Operations Command announced Wednesday that it has awarded a $1.9 million contract for Apple iPad tablets to Executive Technology Inc. of Phoenix. That’s the same company that won a contract in March from the Air Mobility Command for 18,000 Apple iPad 2 computers to store and display digital flight charts and manuals.

The AFSOC contract announcement did not specify whether the deal was for iPads or “equal” tablets as described in its April 9 solicitation but Capt. Kristen Duncan, an AFSOC spokeswoman, said the contract with Executive Technology is for 2,725 Apple Next-Generation iPads. AMC also used similar “brand name or equal” language in its tablet procurement before ultimately selecting the iPad.

Executive Technology trumpets its status as the first African-American–owned small business Apple reseller in the country on its website and says it specializes in Apple and third-party complementary solutions.

AFSOC initially kicked off the process to buy iPads in January. The tablets are to replace paper navigation charts and manuals and serve as electronic flight bags for aircraft crews. At that time, AFSOC said Apple tablets would meet its requirements.

The command canceled that procurement in late February after Nextgov reported that the solicitation specified using PDF document reader software developed in Russia.

When ASFSOC relaunched the tablet buy in April it dropped the Russian software request and added the “brand name or equal” language and reduced the number of tablets it wanted to acquire by 36.