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.