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Tempers heated over Air Force coffee mugs costing nearly $1,300

Concerns about expensive military coffee mugs are heating up.

Several media outlets are warming to reports of military coffee cups costing $1,220 to $1,280.

In two years, replacement costs for the special mugs, which can reheat coffee and tea on air refueling tankers, have gone up more than $500 per cup, forcing the service to dish out $32,000 this year for just 25 cups, the Air Force Times reported this summer.

More recently, USA Today is reporting Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson’s own displeasure with the cups, noting that they have cost the Air Force $326,785 since 2016.

Wilson acknowledged the cost when she wrote to Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, last week after Grassley questioned “yet another report of wasteful spending in the Department of Defense,” the national paper reported.

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In heated Oct. 2 correspondence, Grassley asked Wilson about a Fox News report that found a squadron at California’s Travis Air Force Base had spent $56,000 on the metal mugs in recent years.

Unfortunately, the cups appear to be as breakable as ordinary mugs. In a more recent story, the Air Force Times is reporting that the cups — which plug into outlets on cargo planes to reheat liquids such as water or coffee — have a “faulty plastic handle that easily breaks when the cups are dropped.”

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“And because replacement parts for the cup are no longer made, the Air Force has had to order a whole new cup when the handle breaks,” the Air Force Times said.

The water heaters are used on 59 KC-10s, 52 C-5s, and 222 C-17s, Wilson said, according to the Times. But with planes aging, and the average KC-10 at 34 years old, it’s harder and harder to find replacement parts for those aircraft, she said.

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