Air Force’s First KC-10 Retires

The Air Force’s first KC-10 Extender is heading to the boneyard after 33 years of service, more than 33,000 flight hours, and refueling more than 125,000 aircraft.

The KC-10, tail number 86-0036, was sent off in a ceremony July 13 at its last operational home of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. The retired tanker is one of three KC-10s from the service’s back-up inventory cleared for cuts this year, bringing the current fleet size down to 58 Extenders.

After the ceremony, complete with speeches recognizing “the aircraft for its contributions” and a water salute, the KC-10 flew to the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group—known as the “Boneyard”—where it will be used for spare parts for the rest of the fleet, according to a McGuire release.

“This aircraft, like all the aircraft in our KC-10 fleet, has served honorably and provided life-saving fuel to warfighters executing global reach,” said Col. Scott Wiederholt, commander of the 305th Air Mobility Wing, in a release. “[The aircraft] ensured that all missions, whether combat, re-supply, or humanitarian, were executed in a manner like no other nation in the world is capable of doing.”

Wing historian Stuart Lockhart said the aircraft first entered service at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., in December 1986 where it then deployed for Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. It temporarily moved to Travis Air Force Base, Calif., before heading to McGuire.

All told, almost 11,000 aircrew flew the aircraft and 12,000 maintainers worked on it, according to the release.

The Air Force plans to replace its KC-10 fleet with the KC-46 Pegasus.