As a former Army grunt, it hurts me to admit that the other branches of the Armed Forces do a much better job with their TV ads and recruiting messages. The Air Force, in particular, has some pretty cool technology to leverage when it comes to convincing others to join their ranks.
However, it seems as though they’ve missed one of their biggest selling points.
The coffee cup I used in the field is metal. It can also hold your canteen. It usually doesn’t leak and does offer that extra metallic flavor everyone’s always seeking.
You can buy a new one online for about $20 or hit any Army surplus store and probably get a set of four for less than that.
The Air Force, on the other hand – when they’re on a mission, they use a cool looking cup with a cover. Plus it plugs into the plane’s electrical system so the contents can stay warm.
Oh, and it costs $1,280.
However, it seems not everyone is impressed with the 60th Aerial Port Squadron out of Travis Air Force Base in California spending $326,785 to replace 391 of these mugs.
The cup stems from the need to keep crews alert during lengthy refueling missions. Having to buy so many of the specially designed copper and chrome mugs is due to the frequency at which they are dropped and break.
According to Dr. Heather Wilson, the Secretary of the Air Force, the cost of the cup, which has more than doubled in the last two years, stems from a limited number of supplier options. According to Wilson, a number of companies that used to supply the cup have either shut down production of it or gone out of business due to higher material costs.
Or, maybe, they’re out of business because most buyers wouldn’t keep buying stuff from the same company when it’s constantly breaking.
Secretary Wilson has since unveiled that the Air Force appears to have found a more economical solution.
Apparently, 3D printing replacement handles not only strengthens the mug and prevents it from shattering, but saves about $1,279.50 per replacement cup. Yeah, the fix costs about 50 cents.