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US Marine Corps tests iPads for in-flight use

updated 12:20 pm EDT, Tue May 31, 2011

Tablet saves weight, space for mapping

Pilots in the US Marine Corps have been testing iPads as an in-flight navigational aid, according to military news site Shephard. The Corps has reportedly been experimenting since November, beginning with the iPad 1, but later incorporating the iPad 2. Test vehicles have included not only larger planes like the KC-130J Harvest Hawk, but small attack aircraft like the F/A-18 Hornet and the AH-1W Cobra gunship.

Cramped cockpits are actually one reason the Corps is testing iPads, as pilots have traditionally navigated using map packs, which are heavier and consume more space. One KC-130 sensor operator, Capt. John Belsha, notes that the iPad is far superior to paper for the simple ability to carry both charts and grid references on aircraft that are usually missing the space. The hardware is also said to be easy to use. "It takes five minutes to teach someone how to use the thing -- it's so intuitive and easy, you don't really have to think about it," Belsha comments.

Work is currently in progress to get iPads on US aircraft for training purposes. Military adoption is following in parallel with civilian airlines, which have started using iPads for manuals, charts and other data.

by MacNN Staff



  1. facebook_Clarence

    Via Facebook

    Joined: May 2011



    I feel sorry for the Marines who are going to get shot down because of an unresponsive iPad. These toys are so not ready for military applications.

  1. sailin74

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Night Vision

    They'll have problems with night vision, but perhaps they're ok with that or they may be using a special filter.

  1. Inkling

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Rugged enough?

    I like the idea, but one bit of rough air could render the current iPad a useless clump of broken glass and metal. Apple is still acting like it has 3% of the market and can't afford to have more than a few models. It needs to realize just how big it has grown and have broader product lines.

    An iPad needs to come in several versions including:

    * A sealed, hostile environment model for environments such as warehouses, factories, the great outdoors and (while getting sterilized) hospitals. Dust and grease are death to electronics.

    * A ruggedized model that can meet Milspec standards for military and public service use. The makers of ham and commercial two-way radios often meet those specs for their gear. Why can't Apple be as capable as Icom? And power/data connections need to be designed for the cramped space inside aircraft and vehicles.

    * An iPad model deliberately designed for small children.

    And while they're at it, Apple needs to get over its fetish about art. There are many, many situations where functionality trumps beauty. Military aircraft are one of those situations.

    And finally, if Apple doesn't do this, one of the makers of Droid tablets will.

  1. russellb

    Joined: Dec 1969


    WOW people dont get it

    it's not just about a tablet, it's not just about ruggedising it ( although I agree .. would be nice) airlines and others are looking at the ipad for one reason ... it just works.

    Yes it has some frustrating file management issues BUT it all works reliably , easily and is stupidly simple to use .. hardware and software are built to work that way.

    No crashes, no software / hardware glitches ... just smooth reliable operation. thats why the ipad is such a hit and for all Apples controlling manipulation of the device, thats why it just works and works well.

  1. wrenchy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    re: Correction....

    >>>Does any body in this site has see a iPad crash? I don't, not even an iPhone. So I think you read it wrong.

    If you honestly think an iPhone/Pad will never crash, you have your head up yourass. I have seen an iPhone freeze and stall/crash many times.



    - Sent from my Android Device.

  1. macnews1

    Joined: Dec 1969


    different models what is missing

    Having been in the military and dealt with "milspec" items there are 2 basic varieties. The first are basic specs that meet most modern day electronics. The second are models that need tougher or more rugged options, like some have mentioned. Those are normally specifically made when the military puts out a bid to manufacture.

    The iPad as it stands is probably a great and one of the cheapest ways technology is being tested. They can test it cheaply and if the concept works, order more rugged models. I'm sure Apple wouldn't have a problem making a special military version for the right amount of money.

    Of course you are also assuming they will need these to survive in battle. Right now, they are talking about replacing maps that normally wouldn't fit on the plane in the first place. If anything, with the off the shelf model they will be no worse off and could be in a much better situtation.

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