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Title: Meet The Air Force's $1200 Cup Of Coffee
Source: Zero Hedge
URL Source: https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018 ... eet-air-forces-1200-cup-coffee
Published: Jul 13, 2018
Author: Tyler Durden
Post Date: 2018-07-13 23:28:55 by Deckard
Keywords: None
Views: 78
Comments: 3

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.  

Alternate text if image doesn't load

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.

However, we doubt American taxpayers will see it that way, as the public has had to foot the bill to the tune of nearly $56,000 over the past three years just to replace the cup's handle

A insanely expensive self-heating cup in question on a counter inside a KC-10 Extender at Travis Air Force Base, California. Image source: US Air Force

If it sounds too absurd to be true a new Air Force Times report begins as follows:

When a mobility airman drops a cup of coffee aboard an aircraft, the Air Force can be out $1,220.

Alternate text if image doesn't load

Since 2016, the replacement cost for some of the service’s coffee mugs, which can reheat coffee and tea on air refueling tankers, has gone up more than $500 per cup, forcing the service to dish out $32,000 this year for just 25 cups, military.com recently reported.

The 60th Aerial Port Squadron at Travis Air Force Base recently revealed that it has spent nearly $56,000 to replace broken hot cups over the past three years. The culprit, they say, is a faulty plastic handle known to break on impact. Each time a handle breaks, the Air Force is forced to order a whole new cup, as replacement parts are no longer made.

So the Air Force charged taxpayers $32,000 this year alone for cups with solid gold handles "faulty plastic handles" so that pilots can ensure their tea and Folgers get adequately reheated.

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.

According to Air Mobility Command officials, the 60th Aerial Port Squadron purchased 10 hot cups for $9,630 in 2016. The price for each cup surged from $693 to $1,220 in 2018, resulting in a cost of $32,000 for 25 cups -- a price jump of $527 per cup, the release said. — Military.com

But it is true that the cups have to withstand use in pressurized areas on aircraft such as cargo planes, and must endure turbulence while flying through inclement weather. 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.  (2 images)

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#1. To: Deckard (#0)

However, we doubt American taxpayers will see it that way, as the public has had to foot the bill to the tune of nearly $56,000 over the past three years just to replace the cup's handle.
This will more than take care of that cost:

Airmen Powered by Innovation projected to save over $120M

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- The Air Force secretary, while championing change across the service, has made the Make Every Dollar Count campaign one of her top three priorities. At the heart of the campaign is the Airmen Powered by Innovation program.

Since 2014, API has received 6,791 ideas from Airmen. Of those submissions, 192 have been approved by Air Force leadership and have accumulated $121.3 million in projected savings. Several of the approved initiatives have allowed Airmen to concentrate on their core missions, thus saving invaluable resources beyond budget figures.

“Harnessing Airmen’s creativity has always been vital to the Air Force’s ability to improve our enterprise,” said Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James. “Through API, we aim to capture our Airmen’s spirits by fostering their ideas with the leadership support and oversight necessary to achieve success.”

The program, founded by retired Gen. Larry Spencer in April 2014 and now sponsored by the secretary and vice chief of staff, is intended to be an engine for innovation across the Air Force. To encourage innovation, the Air Force challenges Airmen to find new innovative ways to improve and challenge legacy processes.

Operating under the theme “encourage innovation, empower Airmen and implement efficiencies,” API is geared toward empowering Airmen to share innovative ideas that affect cost savings, quality, productivity, cycle time, process improvement, and morale from the ground up to Air Force senior decision makers. These ideas are evaluated and potentially implemented, helping make the Air Force more efficient and effective.

"I am continually inspired by the creativity and ingenuity of our Airmen across the total force. The technicians, the Airmen really doing the work at the base level, can make remarkable changes in processes Air Force-wide," said Gen. David L. Goldfein, the Air Force vice chief of staff. "They continue to be our most valuable resource."

All ideas, ranging from minor process improvements to large organizational changes, contribute to the API program’s success.

“It’s an incredible opportunity for Airmen to make a difference in their organization,” said Maj. Kevin Etherton, the chief of secretary of the Air Force programs and initiatives.

For example, Erik Figi, who works for the Space and Missile Systems Center History Office at Los Angeles Air Force Base, California, came up with the idea to modify the pins used to playback 16 and 35mm film for digital preservation. The film, dating back to 1954, experienced levels of degradation and shrinkage that caused the existing pins to pick at and break the perforations within the film. Figi’s idea was to modify the pins and taper them to compensate for the shrinkage in the film. The idea was adopted and the Air Force was able to avoid the cost of purchasing new equipment representing a $200,000 in projected savings.

Another innovative idea approved through the aircraft maintenance community was submitted by Brian Grissom and Eugene Peabody from Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma. Their submission suggested employing hardness critical items from various aircraft to supplement B-2 Spirit aircraft requirements. Understanding the B- 2 and certain F-15 Eagle modules are built by Raytheon at the same time, on the same line, with the same components, all to HCI Level 1 standards, Grissom and Peabody submitted their idea to leverage F-15 stocks. Using a flowchart and visual inspection criteria to verify critical hardness standards, this process would enable the use of on-hand items to sustain the B-2. The proposed process change is projected to save $63 million.

At the tactical level of the program is the API cell, located at Joint Base San Antonio- Randolph, Texas. The API cell manages and tracks every idea from submission through evaluation and implementation.

A common question from the field is, “I submitted my idea and it was returned as commonly received -- what does that mean?” This means the idea has already been submitted or closely resembled a previously submitted idea. In many cases, the Air Force is aware of the issue and has already taken steps to address the issue.

“One of the ideas we’ve seen submitted by several Airmen is using solar panels to save energy,” Etherton said. “We’ve also had over 30 submissions with ideas to change format, layout, and content of the enlisted and officer performance reports.”

Some other examples of commonly received submissions include: 21 ideas to allow females to wear “locs” style hair; 17 ideas to transition to LED light bulbs; 17 ideas to adjust computer equipment replacement cycles; and recommendations to cancel Tops in Blue because of the required manpower and associated cost.

“I recommend using the search function on the API portal site before submitting an idea,” Etherton said. “You can do a keyword search and see if your idea or similar idea has already been evaluated. Many of the commonly received ideas have been addressed or are being reviewed at the senior Air Force levels, and, in some cases, ideas are governed by policy external to the Air Force.”

Air Force senior leaders encourage every member to continue to submit ideas and suggest smarter ways to do business.

"The success of money and time-saving innovations is critical to the Air Force's ability to operate in this fiscally constrained environment," James said. "Through the Airmen Powered by Innovation program, we continue to harness innovative ideas and reinvest in our Air Force's most critical assets -- our Airmen."

Gatlin  posted on  2018-07-13   23:50:00 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#2. To: Deckard (#0)

From the looks of it the cup plugs in to reheat the coffee, since aircraft use 400hz power I would imagine that is the biggest reason the cups supposedly costs so much. It also looks like the design is from the 50s when the first KC135 tankers were being produced and just carried over into the KC10. The handle looks like it's made of Bakelite which I don't think is being used much anymore since there are better materials nowadays being used to do the same job.

Vegetarians eat vegetables. Beware of humanitarians!

CZ82  posted on  2018-07-14   1:37:29 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#3. To: CZ82 (#2)

certainly space age technology but then some aircraft flying are 50 years old

paraclete  posted on  2018-07-14   2:39:07 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


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