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Air Force cancels iPad purchase because of Russian software

The military branch was looking to outfit pilots with tablets, but nixed the plan.


And just when we thought the Cold War was over…

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

The military branch was looking to outfit pilots with the tablets, thereby replacing heavy paper flight manuals, but nixed the plan—at least temporarily—after the website inquired about the inclusion of GoodReader, which is 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 to get a company onto the Pentagon’s cautious list, 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 on its website. That’s too bad, really, because GoodReader is generally a well-regarded app.

The purchase cancellation is likely to be temporary as the benefits for pilots to use iPads are becoming well known. Commercial pilots who are already using them have found that the devices can easily replace 20 kilograms worth of paper manuals, which ultimately adds up to fuel savings as well. (As an interesting aside, U.S. pilots are now allowed to use iPads during takeoff and landing, yet passengers still aren’t able to.)

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