Meet the Air Force's $1200 cup of coffee – or more precisely the $1220 coffee cup which keeps breaking, after which the military simply buys more and more cups. The Air Force's $1,220 reheating coffee cup.
Image source: US Air Force Some outlets which have reported on the insanely pricey self reheating coffee mug commonly used aboard aerial refueling tankers have presented it as merely a human interest and innovative tech story as the US military is considering cheaper designs using 3-D printers.
And we're not so sure – to use the Air Force Times' language – that faulty handles are “forcing the service” to have to do anything, much less we can't figure out how the military is “forced to” shell out tens of thousands for coffee cups.
Still, as Popular Mechanics concludes in what sounds like an ironic understatement, “A self-heating coffee cup is a nice morale-builder for air crews, but it comes at a price.” Meanwhile in the same report we learn about “$10,000 toilet seat covers” which when combined with $1200 coffee cups “just adds up” – in the words of one government spending watchdog group. Spokesman for the Project On Government Oversight, Dan Grazier, notes that this kind of obscene excess is hardly new for the Department of Defense, explaining to the Air Force Times, “the root of the problem is intellectual property rights.
When the Pentagon makes deals with defense contractors, it rarely demands data rights, allowing contractors to charge heavily for repair and replacement on the systems down the road.” Once locked into a fat government contract, the suppliers take the DoD to the bank for all they can manage, apparently. The Air Force is currently seeking alternate ways to replace the faulty handles on the $1200 cups, reportedly considering 3-D printed replacement handles at an estimated cost of 50 cents. .