Just to refresh your memory, the United States Air Force purchased 336 PS3s in 2008 for cell processor research. They loved it so much that they sought to buy 2,200 more to further their supercomputer research - they got only 1,700 in January 2010. But with the removal of the Install Other OS feature, things aren't exactly boding well.
At first glance, the firmware update doesn't appear to be a problem for the Air Force PS3s - they have no need to login to PSN and they sure as hell won't need to organize trophies. But what if the consoles are in need of repair?
Ars Technica went and spoke with the US Air Force Research Laboratory on the matter, and as it turns out, even the folks over there aren't happy with the controversial firmware update. "We will have to continue to use the systems we already have in hand," a representative told Ars, "but this will make it difficult to replace systems that break or fail. The refurbished PS3s also have the problem that when they come back from Sony, they have the firmware (gameOS) and it will not allow Other OS, which seems wrong. We are aware of class-action lawsuits against Sony for taking away this option on systems that use to have it."