A military aerial tanker version of the DC-10 commercial airliner was developed for the United States Air Force, and operated as the KC-10 Extender. It employs a mixed hose-and-drogue and flying-boom refueling system, and can refuel military aircraft of the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. It has twice the refueling capacity of the Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker.
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.
McDonnell-Douglas (now Boeing) delivered a total of 60 KC-10 Extenders to the Air Force between 1981 and 1988.
|KC-10 Extender of the United States Air Force in-flight (Photo courtesy of the US Air Force)
|KC-10 Extender of the United States Air Force during in-flight refueling operations with a F-22 Raptor (Photo courtesy of the US Air Force)
|KC-10 Extender during landing approach (Photo courtesy of the US Air Force)
In July of 2020 the Air Force retired KC-10 tail #86-0036, sending it to the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) at Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson. It had been on active duty at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey. This was the first of other KC-10s which are slated for retirement.
|The first USAF KC-10 Extender, S/N 86-0036, arrives at the 309th AMARG at Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson, Arizona, on July 13, 2020 (Photo by USAF 309th AMARG)
|KC-10 Extenders at AMARG in storage and reclamation (Photo by USAF 309th AMARG)