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SECAF: $1,280 Coffee Cups Are 'Simply Irresponsible'

Sends A Letter To Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA)

Secretary of the Air Force (SECAF) Heather Wilson (pictured) has sent a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) that is critical of what she says is "wasteful spending in the Department of Defense."

The letter was sent to Grassley in response to his request for information related to the procurement of special coffee mugs that can reheat liquids which are used aboard air refueling tankers in flight. The mugs have increased in price from $693 each to $1,280 each since 2016. But USA Today reports that Tech Sgt. James Hodgman, a spokesman for a tanker squadron at Travis AFB in California, said in an interview with Fox News that the handles of the mugs have a tendency to shatter when they are dropped. "Unfortunately, when dropped, the handle breaks easily leading to the expenditure of several thousand dollars to replace the cups as replacement parts are not available," he said in the interview.

In her response to Grassley's questions concerning the cost, Wilson said that the item "is a specially manufactured electronic water-heater that plugs into aircraft systems. Because in connects to the aircraft, replacement require FAA airworthiness certification. The Air Force has purchase 391 of these items since 2016 at a total cost of $326,785."

In her letter, Wilson said that many suppliers have either stopped producing certain parts or have gone out of business. She said it is "simply irresponsible to spend thousands of dollars on manufactured parts when we have the technology available to produce them ourselves. In July 2018, I directed creation of the Air Force Rapid Sustainment Office to further develop agile manufacturing (3D printing, cold spray, digital modeling, ect.) to develop and deliver parts at a fraction of the cost of using traditional manufacturing methods. We recently demonstrated capability to 3-D print replacement handles for this item at a cost of about 50 cents each."

(Image from file)

FMI: Source report, Letter

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