U.S. Air Force cancels iPad purchase

All because a PDF reader is made in Russia


Rego - d4u.hu/Flickr (left), x-ray delta one/Flickr (right)

And you thought the Cold War was over…

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

The military branch was looking to outfit pilots with tablets as a replacement for heavy paper flight manuals, but nixed the plan—at least temporarily—after Nextgov inquired about the inclusion of GoodReader, 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 for a company to catch the Pentagon’s attention, 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. That’s too bad, because GoodReader is generally a well-regarded app.

The cancellation of the purchase is likely to be temporary as the benefits of using iPads are becoming well-known to pilots. Commercial pilots have found they can easily replace 20-kg worth of paper manuals, which ultimately adds up to fuel savings as well. (An interesting aside: U.S. pilots are allowed to use iPads during takeoff and landing, yet passengers aren’t.)

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

Filed under:

U.S. Air Force cancels iPad purchase

  1. You know, I often wonder if any of the people who stop to question these kinds of purchases are cognizant of the fact that, if they were really worried about “spying”, the hardware is made in China and modifying the hardware is a far more effective vector.

    Then they’d have to find a supplier in the US (or, heck, a “Western” nation)… who uses only US made parts… 

    For Electronics. Where  manufacturing of everything from transistors to chips has increasingly been moved East.

    Good luck with that. 

    Maybe, just maybe, they should just audit the software/hardware and then have the nerve to tell the detractors to put something equally good on the table or go away. Seems far more effective.

    • NY Times ~ Nov 2011:

      American intelligence agencies, in an unusually blunt public criticism of China and Russia, reported to Congress on Thursday that those two foreign governments steal valuable American technology over the Internet as a matter of national policy.

      In contrast, the new intelligence study, compiled as a report to Congress on foreign economic and industrial espionage over the past two years, presents a pointed case that China and Russia are the leading actors in the Internet theft of economic secrets.

      “The computer networks of a broad array of U.S. government agencies, private companies, universities and other institutions — all holding large volumes of sensitive economic information — were targeted by cyber espionage,” the report said.

      “Chinese actors are the world’s most active and persistent perpetrators of economic espionage,” it added. “Russia’s intelligence services are conducting a range of activities to collect economic information and technology from U.S. targets.”

      • They’ve been repeating that bilge for years.

        • That’s because it’s true.

          China and Russia are now two of the foremost practitioners of realpolitik.
          In many ways industrial and economic espionage is a prudent and logical path to take.

          Of course western nations do it too; just on the downlow, and usually incidentally rather than as policy.

          • Oh of course spying goes on…and we do it too, as policy.

            Even companies in the west spy on each other….industrial espionage is well known.

            But we get carried away with this….as though other countries couldn’t possibly invent or discover things on their own….so they must have ‘stolen’ it from us.  Yet the majority of humans have the same IQ,  and are just as capable of figuring things out as we are.

            Much of what we have today ….from math to computers to knowledge in all fields comes from other cultures….who figured it out long  before we did.

            And we had no problem whatever in using that knowledge to futher ourselves. Why reinvent the wheel, after all?

  2. I don’t believe in God, but sometimes you have to wonder if there’s something with some sort of ironic  sense of humor out there.  The smartphone project director, who presumably cancelled this because of Russian software, is named McCarthy? Really?

    That’s just too funny.

  3. GoodReader is a kind of file management app. It essentially duplicates desktop file management systems for the iPad, but does not interact between apps. There are a few other apps which collectively do the same job as GoodReader. They just don’t want to spend 99¢ on each of them.

  4. I’m sorry, how much is an Ipad?  How much is a standard “not always connected to the internet” ebook reader?  Why do they want to buy these again?

    • Well an iPad’s advantage over an ebook reader is the processing power; say they needed to compute trajectories and set up an economical flightpath, you’d need a bit more than what an ebook reader could offer. 

      But if that’s the justification then almost anything else is better than an iPad; the RIM Playbook is cheaper and more powerful and more compact, and the Android powered Samsungs or  HTCs are much more versatile and customisable. Oh wait, scratch that, Canada is a communist country and South Korea might as well be North Korean.

  5. It’s a blessing and a curse that the most successful democracies are also the most open. Of course, it wouldn’t be such a hindrance if the US had even a fraction of domestic manufacturing capability than they did even ten years ago. One wonders, if Apple can build iPhones in Brazil, why can’t they build them in the US? 

    • Cost.

      And all the companies are doing this, not just Apple

  6. One word. PlayBook. 

  7. He dodged a bullet there, there’s nothing about the dummy-spec iPad that’s suitable for military operations. 

Sign in to comment.