Air Force casts net for handheld touchscreen-controlled devices

Mihai Simonia /

Move highlights growing appetite for tablets on the battlefield.

This story has been updated.

The Air Force unit that hauls troops around the world is exploring its options for handheld touch screen-controlled devices, highlighting an increasing appetite for tablets on the battlefield.

The Air Mobility Command is specifically seeking devices where users can only access data with secure digital memory cards, according to a request for information issued May 21. It also wants contractors to provide a way for officials to track what files have been accessed from the memory cards and how often they have been used.

The devices should be capable of supporting the Pashto and Dari languages. Solar panel chargers should accompany the tablets.

The service said in a contracting notice earlier this year that it was looking to buy up to 18,000 Apple iPads to replace the paper charts and technical manuals its flight crews carry.  The unit awarded a $9.6 million contract to acquire the iPads, Nextgov reported.  

As the use of tablet technology expands in theater, the demand for security technology to encrypt and secure these devices is likely to grow.

(Image via Mihai Simonia /