|The KC-10 Extender is an Air
advanced 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 cargo
aircraft by refueling fighters and simultaneously carry the fighter
support personnel and equipment on overseas deployments. The KC-10 is
also capable of transporting litter and ambulatory patients using
patient support pallets during aeromedical evacuations.
The KC-10 can transport up to 75 people
and nearly 170,000
pounds (76,560 kilograms) of cargo a distance of about 4,400 miles
(7,040 kilometers) unrefueled.
In addition to the three main DC-10 wing fuel tanks, the KC-10 has
three large fuel tanks under the cargo floor, one under the forward
lower cargo compartment, one in the center wing area and one under the
rear compartment. Combined, the capacity of the six tanks carry more
than 356,000 pounds (160,200 kilograms) of fuel - almost twice as much
as the KC-135 Stratotanker.
Using either an advanced aerial refueling boom, or a hose and drogue
centerline refueling system, the KC-10 can refuel a wide variety of
U.S. and allied military aircraft within the same mission. The aircraft
is equipped with lighting for night operations.
The KC-10's boom operator controls refueling operations through a
digital, fly-by wire system. Sitting in the rear of the aircraft, the
operator can see the receiver aircraft through a wide window. During
boom refueling operations, fuel is transferred to the receiver at a
maximum rate of 1,100 gallons (4,180 liters) per minute; the hose and
drogue refueling maximum rate is 470 gallons (1,786 liters) per minute.
The Automatic Load Alleviation System and Independent Disconnect System
greatly enhances safety and facilitates air refueling. The KC-10 can be
air-refueled by a KC-135 or another KC-10A to increase its delivery
The large cargo-loading door can accept most air forces' fighter unit
support equipment. Powered rollers and winches inside the cargo
compartment permit moving heavy loads. The cargo compartment can
accommodate loads ranging from 27 pallets to a mix of 17 pallets and 75
A modified Boeing Company DC-10, the KC-10A entered service in 1981.
Although it retains 88 percent systems commonality with the DC-10, it
has additional systems and equipment necessary for its Air Force
mission. These additions include military avionics; aerial refueling
boom and aerial refueling hose and drogue; seated aerial refueling
operator station; and aerial refueling receptacle and satellite
Twenty KC-10s were modified to add wing-mounted pods to
aerial refueling capabilities. Ongoing modifications include the
addition of communications, navigation and surveillance equipment to
meet future civil air traffic control needs, and the incorporation of
service bulletins to maintain Federal Aviation Administration
The KC-10A is operated by the 305th Air Mobility Wing, McGuire Air
Force Base, N.J.; and the 60th Air Mobility Wing, Travis AFB, Calif.
Air Force Reserve Associate units are assigned to the 349th Air
Mobility Wing at Travis, and the 514th Air Mobility Wing at McGuire.
During operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in 1991, the KC-10
fleet provided in-flight refueling to aircraft from the U.S. armed
forces as well as those of other coalition forces. In the early stages
of Operation Desert Shield, in-flight refueling was key to the rapid
airlift of materiel and forces. In addition to refueling airlift
aircraft, the KC-10, along with the smaller KC-135, moved thousands of
tons of cargo and thousands of troops in support of the massive Persian
Gulf buildup. The KC-10 and the KC-135 conducted about 51,700 separate
refueling operations and delivered 125 million gallons (475 million
liters) of fuel without missing a single scheduled rendezvous.
In March 1999, a NATO air campaign, dubbed Operation Allied
launched against the government of
Yugoslavia. The mobility portion of
the operation began in February and was heavily tanker dependent. By
early May 1999, some 150 KC-10s and KC-135s deployed to Europe where
they refueled bombers, fighters and support aircraft engaged in the
conflict. The KC-10 flew 409 missions throughout the entire Allied
Force campaign and continued support operations in Kosovo.
Since Sept. 11, 2001, KC-10s have played a prominent role in the
on-going Global War on Terrorism. The KC-10 has flown more than 350
missions guarding U.S. skies as a part of Operation Noble Eagle. During
operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, KC-10s have flown more
than 1,390 missions delivering critical air refueling support to
numerous joint and coalition receiver aircraft.