Air Force cancels iPad purchase

23 Feb

And just when we thought the Cold War was over…

The U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command has cancelled its purchase order for 2,861 iPad 2 tablets, apparently because the devices were to come preloaded with Russian-made software, according to government news website Nextgov.

The military branch was looking to outfit pilots with the tablets, thereby replacing heavy paper flight manuals, but nixed the plan – at least temporarily – after the website inquired about the inclusion of GoodReader, which is a PDF reader made by Moscow-based Good.iWare.

The Air Force didn’t comment on the cancellation but Michael McCarthy, the Army’s smartphone project director, previously told the website that “he would not use software developed in Russia because he would not want to expose end users to potential risk.”

It’s likely that simply being based in Russia is enough to get a company onto the Pentagon’s cautious list, but Good.iWare doesn’t seem to be doing much to help its cause. Contact information and further details on the company are sparse to non-existent on its website. That’s too bad, really, because GoodReader is generally a well-regarded app.

The purchase cancellation is likely to be temporary as the benefits for pilots to use iPads are becoming well known. Commercial pilots who are already using them have found that the devices can easily replace 20 kilograms worth of paper manuals, which ultimately add up to fuel savings as well. (As an interesting aside, U.S. pilots are now allowed to use iPads during takeoff and landing, yet passengers still aren’t able to.)

Air Force pilots will almost certainly be using iPads just as soon as a non-Russian-made PDF reader is decided on. Let the lobbying by app makers begin.


Posted by on February 23, 2012 in apple, ipad, war


4 responses to “Air Force cancels iPad purchase

  1. Marc Venot

    February 23, 2012 at 12:30 am

    Russia is not part of the “axe of evil” or subject of an actual hysteria (Iran) so there is no reason for Air Force to boycott its products.
    People are not allowed to use those device because the bureaucracy want them to look at the explainations about safety, even if it’s the thousand time they are instructed.

  2. Russell McOrmond

    February 23, 2012 at 11:19 am

    If there is a concern, then why not opt for hardware and software that is verifiable? This would suggest hardware platforms with open firmware and FLOSS software which allows for independant third party audit, or in-house developed applications.

    Apple hardware/software is the exact opposite, where Apple has colluded with some governments to make it a crime for the owner to remove foreign locks (JailBreaking) in order for their owner to impliment their own security policies. It is that policy which should have been the reason for U.S. Air Force to reject the iPad, not the fact that some lines of code happened to have been authored in a specific country. The assumption that unverified/unverifiable code written by someone physically located within an ally country is “secure” is extremely dangerous.

    Note: Devices that run Android can be stripped of third party applications and run a verified OS. The problem is that the firmware needs to be blindly trusted given many of them are non-FLOSS, but that is a far more secure position to be in than deliberately choosing the least secureable option with Apple.

  3. brockpearson

    February 23, 2012 at 11:37 am

    Reblogged this on BlkJak MediaF1 and commented:
    A well written & interesting article!

  4. brockpearson

    February 23, 2012 at 11:37 am

    A well written & interesting article!

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