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The McDonnell Douglas KC-10 tanker aircraft was in the service of U.S. Air Force. The KC-10 aircraft was derived from the civil DC-10.

It began in Vietnam War doubt about the need for more 700 Boeing KC-135 for supply of aircraft.

In Yom Kippur War in 1973 demonstrated the need for more adequate capacity to supply air. He saw that the C-5 Galaxy were forced to land in Europe to supply, because there was no tanker aircraft large enough to make the direct flight United States to Israel.

As a result the crew of C-5 Galaxys were trained to an air supply and Department of Defense concluded that it was necessary to create a more modern tanker aircraft.


The KC-10 Extender is an air-to-air tanker aircraft in service with the United States Air Force derived from the civilian DC-10-30 airliner. Though there are 59 Extenders currently in service, they are greatly outnumbered by the older KC-135 Stratotanker, though the KC-10 has a significantly larger fuel capacity. Conversion to the KC-10 involved only minor modifications to the DC-10,
AIR KC-10 and F-16s lg

KC-10 refueling a F-16 Fighting Falcon

the largest of which was the addition of a boom control station in the rear of the fuselage and extra fuel tanks under the main deck.

The KC-10 is currently the world's longest-ranged production aircraft, and will continue to hold that record past the introduction of the Boeing 777-200LR, though future 777 variants may range further. The price is $88,400,000 USD.

Design and DevelopmentEdit

Beginning with the Vietnam War doubts began to be raised about the ability of the 700+ strong KC-135 fleet to meet the needs of the United States’ global commitments. The air-refueling fleet was deployed to South-East Asia in support of tactical aircraft and strategic bombers, while maintaining the US-based support of the nuclear bomber fleet. As a result, studies began into the feasibility of acquiring an air-to-air tanker with a greater capability than the KC-135 fleet, but did not progress well due to lack of funding.

The 1973 Yom Kippur War and the US Operation Nickel Grass demonstrated the necessity of adequate air-refueling capabilities. Denied landing rights in Europe, USAF C-5 Galaxies were forced to carry a fraction of their maximum payload on direct flights from the continental United States to Israel. As a result C-5 crews were soon trained in aerial-refueling and the Department of Defense concluded that a more advanced tanker was needed.

In 1975, under the "Advance Tanker Cargo Aircraft" program, four aircraft were evaluated: the C-5 itself, the Boeing 747, the McDonnell Douglas DC-10, and the Lockheed L-1011. The U.S Air Force selected McDonnell Douglas's DC-10 over Boeing's 747 in December 1977.

The design for the KC-10 involved only modifications from the DC-10-30CF design. The major changes were the addition of a boom control station in the rear of the fuselage and extra fuel tanks below the main deck. The KC-10 has both a centerline refueling boom and a drogue/hose system on the right side of the rear fuselage. Other changes from the DC-10-30CF include the
Kc10 cockpit

KC-10 cockpit

removal of most cargo doors and windows. The KC-10 first flew on 12 July 1980. Early aircraft featured a paint scheme with light gray on the airplane's belly and white on the upper portion. A gray-green camouflage scheme was used on later tankers. Aircraft have since been switched to a medium gray color. The KC-10 boom operator is located in the rear of the airplane with wide window for monitoring refueling. The operator controls refueling operations through a digital, fly-by wire system.

A total of 20 KC-10s were later modified to add wing-mounted pods for added refueling locations. In addition to the USAF refueling boom, the KC-10's hose and drogue system allows refueling of U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and most NATO allied aircraft. This gives the KC-10 the ability to refuel USAF, USN, USMC and other NATO aircraft, all in the same mission.


General characteristics

  • Crew: 4 (pilot, copilot, flight engineer, boom operator)
  • Length: 181 ft 7 in (54.4 m)
  • Wingspan: 165 ft 4.5 in (50 m)
  • Height: 58 ft 1 in (17.4 m)
  • Wing area: 3,958 ft² (367.7 m²)
  • Empty weight: 241,027 lb (109,328 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 593,000 lb (269,000 kg)
    Kc-10 refuels 2 f22s jpg

    KC-10 refueling a Raptor

  • Max takeoff weight: 590,000 lb (267,600 kg)
  • Powerplant: 3× F103/General Electric CF6-50C2 turbofans, 52,500 lbf (236 kN) each
  • Maximum fuel capacity: 356,000 lb (160,200 kg) (limited on takeoff by MTOW)


  • Maximum speed: 538 knots (619 mph, 996 km/h)
  • Range: 4,400 mi (7,032 km)
  • Ferry range: 11,500 mi (18,507 km)
  • Service ceiling: 42,000 ft (12,727 m)
  • Rate of climb: 6,870 ft/min (34.9 m/s)

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