The IAF is phasing out heaving binders full of paper as it introduces light and modern tablet computers, such as the iPad, to combat pilots
By Yuval Shoham
When combat pilots climb into the cockpit, they take with them, besides their famous helmet, a few heavy binders full of maps, a bank of targets, and other documents related to the flight. This heavy baggage will soon come down from the back of pilots as the IAF is considering the replacement of the bulky binders with something more portable, such as a tablet computer similar to the iPad that can store everything on its memory that, until today, was printed in binders.
“Beyond the obvious discomfort, the heavy binders were packed so full that you couldn’t add additional papers or new maps”, explains Captain Shai, who was responsible for the project in the engineering department of the equipment division. “We looked for a solution that allowed us to keep the information current and to add and update the existing information. A tablet computer satisfies these needs”.
The IAF already decided to consider the use of tablet computers in place of the large binders several years ago. Beyond larger memory space and the ability to flip through the documents easily, the pilots also need a device with long battery life that passes military standards and can be used during combat flight conditions, without a strong reflection from the sun.
“We’ve conducted our first test flight on the ‘Sufa’ (F-16I) plane with the integration of a tablet computer and it proved to be effective”, says the head of the engineering department, Col. Rami. “We are now at the point where we are in discussion with the different companies and before selecting the most appropriate device”.
According to the project’s timetable, in 2011 a tablet will be chosen and used by the combat pilots. Over the coming years, it will gradually be installed in all planes while the old binders are removed.