Procurement: Garmin Goes To War


August 23, 2010: The U.S. Department of Defense has ordered 1,462 Garmin GPS vehicle navigation units, for about $4,500 each. This seems a little pricey for a GPS nav unit, even by government standards. But this particular model (Garmin GPSMAP 696) is meant for aircraft. The commercial version costs $3,600, and the military version has several additions (maps of combat zones and some extra electronic and security features). The army is getting 789 of these Garmins, and the navy 673. The 696 has a seven inch color display and very well thought out controls.

Garmin GPS nav units are popular with the ground troops as well, and the army has provided Garmin with maps of combat zones for GPS nav gear sold to military users. This greatly reduces the number of military drivers getting lost, a situation that can quickly turn fatal if you wander into an enemy infested town. The military has been issuing troops GPS units for two decades now, but as Garmin, and other manufacturers of vehicle navigation devices have demonstrated, GPS works much better if integrated with an electronic map.




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