McDonnell Douglas KC-10 Extender

The crew of a C-5M Super Galaxy looks on as they connect with a KC-10 Extender June 6, over northern California. More than 15 Air Force Reservists, assigned to the 349th Air Mobility Wing at Travis Air Force Base, California, took part in an orientation flight that allowed wing top performers to experience the wing's aerial refueling mission. During the weekend, the 349th AMW hosted an Air Force Specialty Code Training Weekend, providing reservists with hands-on, realistic training that helps members hone their skills. The AFSC Training Weekend centered around the wing's ability to respond to a major earthquake in northern California, while working in concert with other military, federal and state agencies to provide relief and support where needed. (U.S. Air Force photo by 2nd Lt. Stephen J. Collier/Released)

The McDonnell Douglas KC-10 Extender is the military version of the three-engined DC-10 airliner operated by the United States Air Force (USAF). The KC-10 incorporates military-specific equipment for its primary roles of transport and aerial refueling. It was developed to supplement the KC-135 Stratotanker following experiences in Southeast Asia and the Middle East. The KC-10 was the second McDonnell Douglas transport aircraft to be selected by the Air Force following the C-9. A total of 60 KC-10s were produced for the USAF. The Royal Netherlands Air Force operates two similar tankers designated KDC-10 that were converted from DC-10s.

The KC-10 plays a key role in the mobilization of US military assets, taking part in overseas operations far from home. These aircraft performed airlift and aerial refueling during the 1986 bombing of Libya (Operation Eldorado Canyon), the 1990-91 Gulf War with Iraq (Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm), the 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia (Operation Allied Force), War in Afghanistan(Operations Enduring Freedom), and Iraq War (Operations Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn). The KC-10 is expected to serve until 2043.

Role Aerial refueling tanker, multi-role aircraft
National origin United States
Manufacturer McDonnell Douglas
First flight 12 July 1980
Introduction March 1981
Status In service
Primary users United States Air Force
Royal Netherlands Air Force
Produced KC-10: 1979–1987
Number built KC-10: 60; KDC-10: 2
Unit cost KC-10: US$88.4 million (FY1998)
Developed from McDonnell Douglas DC-10

Specifications (KC-10A)

 External images
McDonnell Douglas KC-10A Cutaway
 McDonnell Douglas KC-10A Cutaway from

Data from USAF Fact sheet, Steffen

General characteristics

  • Crew: 4 (pilot, copilot, flight engineer, boom operator) and additional crewmembers such as an aeromedical evacuation team may be added
  • Length: 181 ft 7 in (55.35 m)
  • Wingspan: 165 ft 4.5 in (50.41 m)
  • Height: 58 ft 1 in (17.70 m)
  • Wing area: 3,958 ft² (367.71 m²)
  • Empty weight: 241,027 lb (109,328 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 593,000 lb (268,980 kg)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 590,000 lb (267,620 kg)
  • Powerplant: 3 × F103/General Electric CF6-50C2 turbofans, 52,500 lbf (236 kN) each
  • Maximum fuel capacity: 356,000 lb (161,480 kg)


  • Maximum speed: 538 knots/0.89 mach (619 mph, 996 km/h)
  • Range: 4,400 mi (7,080 km)
  • Ferry range: 11,500 mi (18,507 km)
  • Service ceiling: 42,000 ft (12,800 m)
  • Rate of climb: 6,870 ft/min (2094 m/min., 34.9 m/s)


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