US Air Force officially retires KC-10 refueling aircraft with final flight at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst

The final flight is en route for decommissioning at Davis Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona.

Matt Trapani

Jun 22, 2023, 9:35 PM

Updated 355 days ago


A workhorse of the United States Air Force took off from New Jersey for the last time on Thursday.
The KC-10 tanker aircraft – a “flying gas station” that refuels military planes midair – is being retired.
The final flight was at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst en route for decommissioning in Arizona.
The three-engine midair refueler has been in service for more than 40 years. It is being replaced by the smaller and more agile KC-46. The KC-10 kept planes, from fighters to bombers to other tankers, flying by giving them the crucial fuel they needed to cross oceans, supply troops and protect the homeland.
A final flight ceremony was held Wednesday as an opportunity for aircrews to say goodbye.
“It's a bittersweet moment, just knowing what I've done with it, knowing where I've been, the places it took me, a safe, reliable jet and being able to celebrate it with the former maintainers who are here now in the hangar. It's like walking into a class reunion,” says Chief Master Sgt. Ryan Guerrette.
Some of the current pilots, boom operators and maintainers will now go on to the KC-46. Others are opting to retire or leave the service.
At its maximum output, the KC-10 aircraft could transfer 1,100 gallons of fuel per minute. The plane could also carry cargo in its massive interior. It's now headed for what's called “The Boneyard” at Davis Monthan Air Force Base – a sort of junkyard for planes.
The plan is to take spare parts, including engines, for some of the KC-10s. Others will still get the oil changed and remain on standby in case they're needed again by the Air Force.
News 12 flew on one of the last refueling missions of the KC-10 in April to see up close how those on board worked hard to keep fighters flying.

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