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Air Force to Buy Up to 18,000 Tablets to Replace Flight Bags

While the iPad 2 is mentioned as the only specific model, the notice states that "brand name or equal devices" are also considered. The tablet computers will replace paper charts and manuals carried by flight crews and trainers of cargo aircraft and are intended to be used as "electronic flight bags" (EFBs). According to the notice, the "acquisition will be conducted utilizing the lowest price technically acceptable source selection process in accordance with Department of Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) Subpart 215.300 Appendix A".

The Air Force's Air Mobility Command (AMC) previously said that the use of an "electronically-based flight publication system will not only enhance operational effectiveness, it can also save the Department of Defense time and money." A flight bag typically contains 70 pounds of paper that needs to kept in shape and order.

Additionally, the Air Force usually updates the documents every 28 days. Back in December 2011, AMC stated that it would expect to have results of an EFB implementation study by Spring 2012. The Air Force believes that not only will EFBs save printing, paper and distribution cost, but also impact aircraft fuel consumption.