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U.S. Air Force plans to order up to 18,000 iPads

The United States Air Force awarded a $9.36 million contract to purchase up to 18,000 Apple iPads, Bloomberg report on Friday. The military will use the tablets to replace paper manuals and navigation charts carried by pilots and navigators. “Aircrews fly nonstop worldwide missions and require access to flight publications both on and off the aircraft, throughout all phases of flight,” Captain Kathleen Ferrero, an Air Force spokeswoman, said. The “electronic flight bags” will help crews operate more effectively and safely, and support the Pentagon’s efficiency goals. The contract calls for 32GB Wi-Fi iPads, which normally retail for $599. The Air Force, however, will purchase them at a discount of about $520 per device. As many as 18,000 devices can be purchased within a year of the contract award date, which was this past Thursday. “That doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll purchase all 18,000,” she said. “It’s contingent upon funding requests and approval.”