Plans to buy thousands of iPads or equivalent models to replace flight bags on aircraft in order to lower space requirements and make information more accessible have been abruptly withdrawn.
So far, no explanation has been offered by the U.S. Air Force, however, the step has been taken only days after it received a query from Nextgov concerning the inclusion of security software that originated in Russia, as well as a document reader and encryption program.
Originally, the acquisition came to light from a presolicitation notice on the Federal Business Opportunities website which stated:
The Government plans to issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a minimum of 63 and a maximum of 18,000, iPad 2, Brand Name or Equal devices. This equipment will be utilized as Electronic Flight Bags (EFB) for flightcrew members and trainers. This acquisition will be conducted utilizing the Lowest Price Technically Acceptable Source Selection.
On the heels of the news inquiry, Michael McCarthy, director of the Army's digital flightbag project, Connecting Soldiers to Digital Applications, told Nextgov that software developed in Russia could potentially be a security risk, and therefore would not use the software.
As the devices would contain confidential and potentially critical information, every application and line of code would have to be checked for malicious content. As with any digital device, severe consequences can appear from a security breach or infection -- so this may be the reason why the U.S. Air Force has withdrawn its acquisition plans for the moment -- as the security risks may be too great.
Image credit: Tyler S