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iPad at war: How the iPad is crucial to the Ukraine war effort

An iPad in a jet [X/OSINTtechnical]

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The iPad is being used for an unusual purpose in the Ukraine-Russia conflict — they're helping the Ukraine Air Force use modern weapons on older fighter jets.

One of the problems of using older vehicles in war is that it may have the hardpoints, but not have the technical capability to pass targeting information to newer weapons. In the Ukraine conflict, it appears that one workaround involves using an iPad.

The U.S. Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Dr. William LaPlante confirmed that tablets like the iPad are being added to older jets to modernize weapon systems.

Speaking at the Global Security Forum on April 24, LaPlante offered details of the situation to attendees, reports The WarZone. The Ukrainian Air Force has many Russian and Soviet-era aircraft, which were in need of retrofitting, LaPlante explained.

"Working with the Ukrainians, we've been able to take many Western weapons and get them to work on their aircraft where it's basically controlled by an iPad by the pilot." he offered. "And they're flying it in conflict like a week after we get it to him"

LaPlante didn't explain finer details. A video surfaced shortly after the discussion showing an Su-27 Flanker fitted with the system.

The video shows an iPad-like tablet mounted right in front of the pilot.

The tablet is also used to offer other information, such as maps, to the pilot. Since it dominates most of the instrument panel, it is probable that the iPad also handles some avionics, and flight information crucial to the pilot.

It is thought that the iPad is able to work with a number of Western-supplied air-to-ground weapons. The video showed the use of U.S-supplied AGM-88 High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missiles.

The system may also be used to handle Joint Direct Attack Munition-Extended Range precision-guided bombs. Hammer rocket-assisted bombs from France and dual-mode PaveWay IV precision-guided bombs from the UK could also end up being iPad-deployable.

This is far from the first time that the iPad has been used in aviation. The iPad has been in use in commercial flights as an electronic flight bag for a number of years, eliminating the need to carry pounds of documents, therefore saving weight and fuel.

Apple products have also been used in other ways in the Ukraine conflict. In April 2022, one Ukrainian realized retreating Russian forces stole AirPods from his Kyiv home. He then used Find My to monitor their movements.