The departure of McDonnell Douglas KC-10A Extender (serial 84-0188) from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (JB MDL) on June 22 marked not only the end of KC-10 operations for the USAF’s 305th and 514th Air Mobility Wings (AMWs), but also the type’s 33-year mission at the New Jersey base.
The 305th/514th AMW’s last KC-10A (84-0188) departed the New Jersey base for the final time after participating in multiple farewell ceremonies that served to both commemorate the 33-year legacy of Extender operations and mark the end of the tanker's time at JB MDL. As part of these ceremonies, the aircraft performed a farewell flypast before being flown to the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) at Davis-Monthan AFB in Arizona, where it will be kept in long-term storage and used as a source of spare parts to help support the KC-10As that remain operational in USAF service.
This particular KC-10A (84-0188) flew a total of 33,475.5 flight hours in support of operational USAF missions across six different continents. The tanker was responsible for refuelling more than 125,000 aircraft from 25 different nations and was flown by 11,000 aircrew members, while another 12,000 maintainers have worked to keep it available for air operations.
Commenting on the departure of the final KC-10A from the New Jersey base during the farewell ceremony, Col Elizabeth Hanson – commander of the 305th AMW – said: “While we are saddened to see the KC-10 depart JB MDL for the last time, it’s the airmen among us who made this aircraft great, and it’s your stories of perseverance, courage, excellence and camaraderie that will continue to shine upon the legacy of the KC-10.”
While the USAF is in the process of phasing out its remaining KC-10As as it continues to welcome more Boeing KC-46A Pegasus tankers into service, the fleet will remain operational for several years to give the USAF time to integrate its successor into Air Mobility Command’s Total Force tanker enterprise. As part of this process, select portions of the USAF’s legacy tanker fleet is being withdrawn from use to enable the air arm to recapitalise and replace its ageing tankers with newer, more modern and advanced platforms, while also maintaining its air-to-air-refuelling capabilities.