The First Flight Of The KC-10

On this day in 1980, the McDonnell Douglas KC-10 made its first flight.

The KC-10 is operated by the US Air Force and is the military version of the civilian DC-10 airliner and was designed to be both a transport and an aerial refueling aircraft. It was developed to supplement the KC-135 and has participated in the 1986 bombing of Libya (Operation Eldorado Canyon), the 1990-1991 Gulf War (Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm), the 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia (Operation Allied Force), the war in Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom) and the Iraqi war (Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn).  The aircraft able to refuel either Air Force aircraft with their “boom” system of refueling or Marine Corp and Navy aircraft with their “basket and drogue” system, although the configuration must be set before the aircraft takes off.

KC-10 2
A KC-10 refuels an F/A-18 Hornet. Photo by Lt. Cmdr. Charles Radosta, USN

The aircraft is in danger of retirement due to budget cuts if the budget cuts forced by the sequester are not repealed. The Department Of Defense budget for FY 2015 does not include cuts to the KC-10 but should the cuts not be repealed it is in danger of being retired during FY 2016. Assuming that this does not happen, the KC-10 is slated to be in service until 2046.

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