Douglas KC-10 Extender
|Assigned to the
319th Air Refuelling Wing at Grand Forks AFB, North Dakota,
KC-135R 58-0120 is a 42 year old Stratotanker flown by the 906th
Air Refuelling Squadron. Flying in support of Red Flag missions
the crews of Air Mobility Command tankers provide an important,
and often overlooked role.
The KC-10A Extender is an advanced aerial
tanker and cargo aircraft designed to provide increased global
mobility for U.S. armed forces. Although the KC-l0's primary
mission is aerial refueling, it can combine the tasks of a
tanker and transport aircraft by refueling fighters and
simultaneously carrying the fighter support personnel and
equipment on overseas deployments.
Based on the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 Series
30CF Convertible Freighter, the KC-10A Extender emerged
victorious in a contest with Boeing's Model 747 aerial
tanker variant to satisfy the U.S. Air Force's Advanced Tanker
Cargo Aircraft requirement. In December 1977, it was selected by
the USAF based on integrated assessment of capability, price,
life-cycle costs and technical features of the DC-10. The KC-10's maiden flight took place on 12
July 1980. The first aerial refueling occurred during testing on
30 October 1980, with the receiver aircraft a C-5 Galaxy.
The first KC-10 was delivered to the USAF on 17 March 1981. The
60th and last was formally handed over on 29 November 1988.
In the mid-1990s, the major USAF
reorganization that witnessed the elimination of the Strategic
Air Command (SAC) resulted in the KC-10 Extender fleet being
reassigned among units of the Air Mobility Command (AMC) and Air
Combat Command (ACC), before all being controlled by AMC. All
KC-10's, apart from a single aircraft that was destroyed in a
fire on the ground in September 1987, are still in service.
There are currently two operational KC-10 bases (both are
located in the continental U.S.): McGuire AFB,
New Jersey and Travis AFB,