Air Force Stops Ordering $1,280 Coffee Cups

Bullet Points
The infamous "hot cup."
US Air Force

The Air Force has pumped the brakes on units trying to order its infamous $1,280 coffee cup "until further notice," according to Air Force Times.


  • The move comes days after Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) received a response to his query on why the Air Force was spending that much on a so-called "hot cup," which heats up liquids on KC-10 aircraft.
  • “While I appreciate that the Air Force is working to find innovations that would help save taxpayer dollars, it remains unclear why it cannot find a cheaper alternative to a $1,280 cup,” Grassley said in a statement on Friday.
  • Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson wrote Grassley in an Oct. 17 letter that he was “right to be concerned about the high costs of spare parts” while explaining that some of the contractors who supply the cups have gone out of business or don’t still manufacture them.
  • Amid media scrutiny (including here at Task & Purpose), an Air Force spokesman on Tuesday told the Air Force Times that units trying to order a hot cup through its supply system will see a message telling them, "do not order until further notice."
  • “Everyone recognizes that the costs are excessive,” Col. Chris Karns told The Times. “That’s why the change came about. I don’t think you can find a single person who believes what was paid was an acceptable cost.”
  • The Air Force has been working to adopt more widespread use of 3D-printed handles for the cups — the most breakable element that required a full, and far pricier, replacement — which it has offered through its Rapid Sustainment Office in some cases.
  • A 3D-printed replacement handle costs roughly 50 cents.

Editor's Note: This article by Oriana Pawlyk originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

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