DOD-iPad-USWe heard reports in October that the U.S. Department of Defense was preparing to approve a large number of iOS and Android devices for use on government networks. Those reports were followed earlier this month with news that CACI International Inc. was modifying thousands of iPads for use in U.S. government agencies. The Pentagon confirmed in a statement today that it plans to open its networks to 100,000 new devices from Apple and Google by February of next year:

The Pentagon said it wants employees to have the flexibility to use commercial products on classified and unclassified networks. It plans to create a military mobile applications store and hire a contractor to build a system that may eventually handle as many as 8 million devices.

The move comes as iPad and other iOS devices continue to be adopted by government agencies over BlackBerry. Documents from October revealed the U.S. Department of Defense planned to deploy up to 8 millions devices partially made up of iOS devices, while a number of other U.S. agencies also switched from BlackBerry to iPhones over the last year. As for the App Store and system for managing the up to 8 million devices, the DOD will select one or more companies by summer to develop the necessary software:

The Defense Information Systems Agency plans to select a company or group of firms by early summer to develop the architecture to manage mobile devices and distribute software applications, according to John Hickey, mobility program manager at the agency.

BlackBerry currently has the lion’s share of the 600,000 devices used by the Pentagon. The Pentagon said the networks now have about 470,000 BlackBerrys, 41,000 Apple products, and 8,700 Android devices.

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