The United States Air Force/McDonnell Douglas KC-10A advanced tanker/cargo aircraft is a version of the intercontinental-range DC-10 Series 30CF (convertible freighter), modified to provide increased mobility for U.S. forces in contingency operations by: refueling fighters and simultaneously carrying the fighters' support equipment and support people on overseas deployments: refueling strategic airlifters (such as the USAF C-5 and C-l4l) during overseas deployments and resupply missions; and augmenting the U.S. airlift capability.
In most instances, the KC-10A performs these missions without dependence on overseas bases and without depleting critical fuel supplies in the theater of operations. Equipped with its own refueling receptacle, the KC-10A can support deployment of fighters, fighter support aircraft and airlifters from U.S. bases to any area in the world, with considerable savings in both cost and fuel compared to pre-KC-l0A capabilities.
The aerial refueling capability of the KC-10A nearly doubles the nonstop range of a fully-loaded C-5 strategic transport. In addition, its cargo capability enables the U.S. to deploy some fighter squadrons and their unit support people and equipment with a single airplane type, instead of requiring both tanker and cargo aircraft. The Air Force is calling the KC-10A the "Extender" because of its ability to carry out aerial refueling and cargo mission without forward basing, thus extending the mobility of U.S. forces.
Although the KC-10A's primary mission is aerial refueling, it can combine the tasks of tanker and cargo aircraft by refueling fighters while carrying the fighters' support people and equipment during overseas deployments. The KC-10A can transport up to 75 people and about 170,000 pounds (76,560 kilograms) of cargo a distance of about 4,400 miles (7,040 kilometers). Without cargo, the KC-10A's unrefueled range is more than 11,500 miles.
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