Is social media driving the U.S. Army’s substantial iPad acquisition?

On September 23, 2010, the Department of the Army (U.S.) issued solicitation W9124D10IPADS for the purchase of 587 Apple iPads prepared to the following specification: “Item shall be equal to the salient characteristics of the Apple 32GB iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G.” Requirements include:

- 32GB of storage that operates on skip-free flash memory eliminating the need for a hard drive and provides instant on capability.
- 9.7 inch (diagonal) LED-backlit Multi-Touch display with ISP technology
- up to 10 hours of battery life
- an 80% fast charge of 1.5 hours with a full charge within 3 hours
- ability to show Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) videos
- provides on-demand social networking functionality

Contractor shall perform the following before shipping:

- Each unit shall be activated and pulled into an enterprise air time account.
- Each unit shall have Military Occupational Series (MOS) videos loaded locally.
- Customer required SSID shall be added to each unit.
- Test and configure WIFI settings
- Test and configure Blue Tooth settings
- Test and configure Network settings
- Test and configure Location services
- Add custom created wallpaper
- Configure brightness settings
- Configure auto lock and password settings
- Add restrictions to device
- Activate and configure individual email accounts (1 per device)
- Add approved Army applications
- Download videos
- Test and configure video settings
- Provide on line daily tracking reports on shipment.

The solicitation also called for 587 each of Apple’s AppleCare Protection (2-year) for iPad and Otterbox Defender Cases for iPad.

The 32GB iPad with WiFi+3G retails for $729, AppleCare at $99.00 per unit, and the Otterbox Defender Case for iPad retailing for $89.95 per unit. Let’s do some quick math here…

$729 x 587 = $427,336.00
$99 x 587 = $58,113.00
$89.95 x 587 = $52,800.00

Drum roll, please. $538,249.00 total, which may be slightly reduced by volume discounts or increased based on services the provider must render, as outlined above. Mind you, this half-million-dollar order is to ensure the folks at Fort Knox in Kentucky can play Military Occupational Series (MOS) videos and take part in social networking.

Digital camo forecast for the Apple iPad?

Digital camo forecast for the Apple iPad?

Soldiers at the Royal School of Artillary in Wiltshire, UK, are using the iPad and a specifically designed app to train for fire mission situations. Officials are of the mind that soldiers pay better attention while training, and it makes it “more fun” than being in a classroom.

Many in the mil/aero community are relieved these devices are not making their way on the battlefield, getting involved in anything safety- or mission-critical, housing classified information, and so on. Not yet, anyway.

How long until we start fielding non-ruggedized, commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) computing products to warfighters in the field?

Some military officers are hot to adopt these devices now, while makers of rugged computers ask (nay, beg) that they “wait” for a rugged version able to withstand the rigors of battlefield scenarios and environments.

Has COTS gone too far? Will the military risk security for convenience or “coolness”? This geek is intrigued. Let the war of commercial techno-envy begin!

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Posted December 31st, 2010, by

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About J. VanDomelen Mil/Aero Blog

J. VanDomelen holds a Bachelor of Science in Information Systems and myriad certifications from Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTia in varying facets of computer software, hardware, and network design and implementation. He has worked in the electronics industry for more than 12 years in varied fields, including advanced systems design of highly technical military and aerospace computer systems, semiconductor manufacturing, open source software development, hardware design, and rapid prototyping. J. VanDomelen Mil/Aero Blog

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[...] but others are leery of the change—particularly if it involves a move to commercial off-the-shelf (COTS), rather than military-standard (MIL-STD) computers, especially given that the latter is built from [...]

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