Making good on its proposal from last month, the US Air Force has awarded a $9.4 million one-year contract to purchase up to 18,000 iPad 2 tablets. The tablets, purchased at a discount through vendor Executive Technology, will serve as "electronic flight bags" for pilots in the Air Mobility Command division, which primarily provides transport and refueling support. It would replace the paper manuals and charts that are currently in flight bags. Outside the military, some commercial airlines have already made the switch, dropping the 40-pound bags in favor of tablets.
Despite the size of the contract, military spokesperson Kathleen Ferrero told Bloomberg that the Air Force would not necessarily purchase 18,000 iPads in the year that the contract will be in effect. The number will depend on the amount of funding that's available. So far, 63 of the tablets have been ordered. A separate Air Force contract for around 3,000 iPads was canceled last week, possibly because of security concerns.