The KC-10 is a multirole tanker/transport capable of aeromedical evacuation, based on the McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30CF.
The aircraft is USAF’s largest air-refueling aircraft. It is simultaneously capable of tanker and cargo roles, enabling it to support worldwide fighter deployments. The aircraft employs an advanced aerial refueling boom and hose/ drogue system allowing it to refuel a wide variety of U.S. and allied aircraft, including the CV-22 tilt-rotor, within the same mission.
The aircraft has three large fuel tanks under the cargo floor and an air-refueling operator’s station recessed into the aft fuselage. It is refuelable by boom-equipped tankers. Ongoing mods include modernized navigation, surveillance, and air traffic management (CNS/ATM) to bring the fleet into compliance with FAA mandates, and advanced Mode 5 IFF.
The fleet amassed more than 2.3 million flying hours before the first three tankers retired in 2020, the first of which arrived for storage at Davis Monthan July 13. USAF targeted fleet reduction to 40 aircraft in FY21, but Congress directed the service maintain at least 50 aircraft to provide sufficient tanker support due to shortfalls with the KC-46.
Congress further directed USAF maintain a least 38 KC-10s through FY22, and 26 through FY23 before divesting the fleet in 2024.
Contractors: McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing); Collins Aerospace (CNS/ATM).
First Flight: April 1980.
Delivered: March 1981-April 1990.
IOC: August 1982.
Operator: AMC, AFRC (associate).
Aircraft Location: JB McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.; Travis AFB, Calif.
Active Variant: •KC-10A. Modified McDonnell Douglas DC-10 designed as a multirole cargo-tanker.
Dimensions: Span 165.4 ft, length 181.6 ft, height 58 ft.
Weight: Max T-O 590,000 lb.
Power Plant: Three GE Aviation CF6-50C2 turbofans, each 52,500 lb thrust.
Performance: Speed 619 mph, range 11,500 miles, or 4,400 miles with max cargo (air refuelable).
Ceiling: 42,000 ft.
Fuel Capacity: 356,000+ lb. at 1,100 gpm (boom), 470 gpm (drogue).
Accommodation: Two pilots, flight engineer, boom operator; AE crew: two flight nurses, three medical technicians; other crew depending on mission.
Load: Up to 75 people and 17 pallets or 27 pallets up to approx. 170,000 lb.