Gridded reference graphics, CAS missions and a successful battle with entrenched bureaucracy: a very interesting article from Disruptive Thinkers:
Most Marine Corps aviators who have served in Afghanistan in a close air support role are familiar with the over 1,000 maps that make up the Helmand Valley. These maps are made using high resolution imagery with every building identified by a unique number. Such products enable aircrew to quickly correlate friendly and enemy locations, more effectively providing accurate and timely aviation fires for ground based units. This, in turn, saves the lives of young Americans and their allies.
Until recently, aircrew carried all 1000 map sheets individually. To find the right one required sorting through 30 lbs of paper to find the appropriate gridded reference graphic for a specific operational area. In fact, there are so many maps, they won’t all physically fit inside the cockpit -- an operational liability if you are told to provide support in an unanticipated area. Additionally, finding the right map could take several minutes -- precious time during a fire fight.
In order to solve this problem, an enterprising AH-1W Cobra attack helicopter pilot, Captain Jim “Hottie” Carlson, developed an application to electronically digitize and stitch these map sheets together so that a pilot could view them on an iPad.