The Air Force Air Mobility Command last year awarded a contract for up to 18,000 iPads and believes it is on track to see a $50 million cost savings from their intended use once implemented. The contract, a $9.36 million investment, is one step in replacing what amounts to hundreds of pounds of paper documentation on larger aircraft. In the case of a C-5 Galaxy transport, the weight savings has been estimated at nearly 500 pounds, including paper documentation carried by each crew member and paper documents stored on the aircraft. That weight savings translates to an accountable fuel savings, but doesn’t account for the $50 million.
The $50 million estimated savings covers a period of 10 years, during which time the Air Force expects to save $5.7 million annually on printing and distribution costs. Fuel savings are expected to be less than $1 million, annually. iPads are currently being used by some 16,000 Air Mobility Command aircrew. Another 2,000 iPads are deployed in other areas of the Air Force. The program began as a six-month trial period that commenced last July and during which 721 iPads were used by C-130 crews. Aside from cost savings, the move is expected to improve operational efficiency and safety. Certain companies produce security features for the iPad, allowing them to be “locked,” making them more secure and easier for the Air Force to track.