Air Force buys 18,000 iPads -- not 'equal' tablets

The Air Force Air Mobility Command awarded Executive Technology Inc. of Phoenix a $9.6 million contract to acquire up to 18,000 Apple iPad 2 computers to store and display digital flight charts and manuals.

The deal announced Friday came one month after the command kicked off the procurement for iPads "or equal" tablet computers.

The iPads will serve as electronic flight bags, replacing paper charts that can weigh as much as 40 pounds for crews that fly C-5, C-17 and C-130 airlifters. Gen. Raymond Johns, AMC commander, in an internal message obtained by Nextgov, said he expected the command will complete the shift to paperless charts by December.

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency's Office of Aeronautical Navigation started developing digital flight charts in the summer of 2011, and a beta form of the iPad version has been available since January.

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