Feeding Our Bloated Military Industrial Complex

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Huntn, Oct 23, 2018.

  1. Huntn macrumors P6

    Huntn

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    #1
    This is not beating up rank and file military personnel, but it is a critique directed at the MIC, the Military Industrial Complex and any political party that seeks to enrich it for other than pragmatic reasons.

    Do you remember the $500 toilet seats? Now... $1200 coffee mugs.

    https://www.military.com/defensetec...ups-could-last-longer-thanks-3d-printing.html

    Here’s an idea, crew members can buy their own $10 mugs and be responsible for them. :rolleyes:
     
  2. mac_in_tosh macrumors 6502

    mac_in_tosh

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    #2
    ...and meanwhile our roads and bridges are crumbling.
     
  3. vertical smile macrumors 68040

    vertical smile

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    #3
    Did you even read the article you posted?

    The replacement cup will be around $0.50 each.

    I agree that the old cup's price was ridiculous, but many times with these situations that there are certain features, tolerances, and requirements that prevent from using a "commercial-off-the-shelf" product.
     
  4. TheHateMachine macrumors 6502a

    TheHateMachine

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    #4

    No, the replacement cup will not be .50. they will be able to 3d print a replacement handle for that much instead of buying a whole new cup when the handle breaks. That still doesn't mean they won't be purchasing new overpriced cups in the future.
     
  5. vertical smile macrumors 68040

    vertical smile

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    #5
    That is what I meant about the replacement. It sounds like the replacement handles were once available, but the OEM stopped making them, which is a very common problem when dealing with sustainment. I wonder how much the OEM handle was.

    Since the handle is the part that usually breaks, there may not be a need to buy too many more of these expensive cups.

    This is great for these Airman to come up with solutions to these type of issues, especially for so cheap. If a contractor was asked to design and manufacture replacement handle, the acquisition costs would be ridiculously high, especially since it would be a low density part.
     
  6. vrDrew macrumors 65816

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    #6
    Without really knowing what these cups do, its hard to make much of an assessment.

    If they are an integral part of an in-flight hot beverage supply system, well - then it's just a thousand-dollar component on a $100 million aircraft. Air Force refueling aircraft go on very long missions, and it's not unreasonable that the aircrew can get a hot cup of coffee to keep them alert.

    On the other hand, if this is something that could be replaced with a couple of $20 thermos flasks - you gotta sort of ask why no one thought of that.
     
  7. Huntn, Oct 23, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2018

    Huntn thread starter macrumors P6

    Huntn

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    #7
    As I understood it, the $.50 was a fix for the $1200 cup, that still costs $1200. The question is why $1200 in the first place? Maybe this is just one indicator of many, why military aircraft are so expensive. Funding of our military contracts is frequently a scam that tax payers are footing the bill for. We also saw in it in Iraq with no-bid, open ended contracts. That $300k, (or was it $500k?) truck got a flat tire? Abandon it and order up another courtesy of Tax payers.
    [double-post=1540341341][/doublepost]
    Profits for contractors.
     
  8. vertical smile macrumors 68040

    vertical smile

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    #8
    I don't know the answer to this. Maybe it was just a contractor ripping the tax payer off. It happens.

    A more common scenario is that the cup was probably required to meet certain regulations and be compatible with existing systems, such as a electrical heater, brewer, cup storage compartment, etc. These type of things, especially with a low density item, increases acquisition costs.

    Many times, it isn't even on the contractors, but the government using too detailed requirements and specs leading to custom made parts. There is a lot of overhead to manufacture a custom made part, and for such low density parts, there is not benefit for economy of scales.

    I bet this is probably what happened in this particular case. The government trying trying to limit this type of procurement in recent years, instead getting more open-source and standard systems and subsystems when possible.

    They should get profits, otherwise what is the point. I think the question should be how much profit is suitable. This question gets a lot more attention today than it did just a few years ago.

    I think these two statements sum it up pretty well.
     
  9. Huntn thread starter macrumors P6

    Huntn

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    #9
    I’ll correct: excessive profits. Then plainly and honestly state the cost of items such as toilets and coffee cups. My feeling is that there are exploits in pricing where items are made to quote military specs, so the price can be ballooned, when regular specs would work just as well in most likely many cases for items like these.
     
  10. vertical smile macrumors 68040

    vertical smile

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    #10
    I understand, and you are correct, this does happen. Although, most "military spec" stuff is usually just stating a standard isn't that much more expensive than commercial items. Actually, many military spec items are the same thing and same price as commercial items. It is the custom materiel that end up being costly.

    Many times it is the fault of the government for asking for systems that have too detailed specs. That is why the government ends up spending thousands of dollars on custom made hammers when a home depot hammer would have been adequate.

    The upside to this problem is that both government and industry is very aware of the type of waste that is happening, and now contractors often suggest using commercial items when possible, instead of the custom stuff that the contractor would of made a much bigger profit on.

    The downside is that there are many old systems that still perform very well, but use the older and more expensive way of procurement. So, I doubt that this hot cup will be the last story we hear about potential waste.
     
  11. lowendlinux Contributor

    lowendlinux

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    #11
    The government procurement process is as much of a problem as the company making the product.
     
  12. Mousse macrumors 68000

    Mousse

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    #12
    Man, I wish I could pay my taxes in coffee mugs and toilet seats. Last years's taxes would have come out to 5 coffee mugs and 2 toilet seats.o_O Keep the change Mah Gub'ment, keep the change.:p Paying my taxes with a trip to the home center; that's living the dream.:D
     
  13. VulchR macrumors 68020

    VulchR

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    #13
    The issue isn't the military. It's the private sector gouging the public sector. But, yeah, heads should roll.
     
  14. Huntn thread starter macrumors P6

    Huntn

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    #14
    Government budgeting is an issue too. Just before the end of the fiscal year, they used to ask for volunteers to go fly cross countries, to burn up all that left over fuel in our budget. :oops:
    --- Post Merged, Oct 24, 2018 ---
    Technically it is the MIC on which the military suckles. People in charge of the military run the procurement process, at least they used too.
     
  15. BeeGood macrumors 68000

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    #15
    As other people have said, yes, the cost of those cups is insane. But I wouldn’t expect them to buy off the shelf mugs for air crew either. They reheat the beverages, which means they have heating elements, which means you have to be REALLY friggin’ certain that there is zero chance the thing will overheat and cause a fire in a large tanker aircraft filled with tens of thousands of gallons of jet fuel.

    Again, $1200 sounds like a lot, but considering how extremely durable and safe they need to be coupled with the fact that you’re only buying...what, like maybe 100 of them (if they’re specifically for tanker air crews) I’m not so sure I can really argue against this. I agree that military spending certainly needs to be cut, but this kind of seems like a ticky-tack thing to raise up as an example.
     
  16. lowendlinux Contributor

    lowendlinux

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    #16
    Yes the budgeting process is bad too once money is in on pale it can't be pulled and put into another, some money can't be broken down for a series of smaller things that are needed because of the way it was appropriated, then there's the end of year scramble because agencies can't carry the money over. I do understand why most of the laws are in place but on the ground it doesn't work all that well. Combine all that with the hurry up and wait that is natural in the military and you get $1200 coffee cups.
     
  17. VulchR macrumors 68020

    VulchR

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    #17
    Ok - maybe this is a fair point. Still, why not use a high-quality Thermos? it just seems a bit excessive given the we need to update actual weapons.
     
  18. s2mikey macrumors 68020

    s2mikey

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    #18
    Yeah - I have to agree here. They milk this stuff to no end. Waste of my money.

    Does anyone remember that guy that sent the IRS a toilet seat way back when he owed like $3000 on his taxes and they had reportedly spent that much on toilet seats? Pretty funny but he did get arrested or whatever. :)
     
  19. BeeGood macrumors 68000

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    #19
    Some of those crews are in the air for 16 hours at a time. Even a really good thermos is going to go cold on you by then.

    I can’t imagine that they spent more than $200K on these. Compare that to the $60 billion they spent developing, building and deploying the F-22 raptor...an air superiority fighter that is going to replace a plane (the F-15) that is undefeated in aerial engagements (I believe it’s 102-0 worldwide over its almost 40 year operational lifetime).

    Just for added color, the helmet that F-22 pilots wear costs half a million dollars. Far more than what they paid for these mugs.
     
  20. vertical smile macrumors 68040

    vertical smile

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    #20
    I bet that the cost associated with the hot cup had to do with the design. The heating element most likely had to be approved and flight worthy tested by the USAF and FAA. Plus, this cup was originally procured 4 decades ago, and there probably was not a suitable commercial item to be used instead.


    The government does try to use commercial items if possible.

    You have got to remember that this hot cup was originally design several decades ago and there might have not been a suitable commercial substitute for it. Even now, there might not be a suitable replacement, as there are certain requirements that commercial products might not meet, especially when it comes to air worthiness.

    This is one of the worse things about government budgets.

    It disincentivizes cost savings, especially at the end of the FY. It is totally opposite of private sector which rewards saving money and being under budget.
     
  21. FrenchRoasted macrumors regular

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    #21
    If they’re getting money from the government, they are no longer the private sector. Normal market functions do not apply.
     
  22. VulchR macrumors 68020

    VulchR

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    #22
    A lab-grade Thermos would keep things hot for longer. In any case the military is not always profligate in their spending. If I recall correctly, they use fold up garden chairs on the B-2 to give pilots some rest during long flights.
     

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21 October 23, 2018