US Air Force begins KC-10A fleet retirement

by Pat Host

The US Air Force (USAF) started retiring its fleet of McDonnell Douglas KC-10A Extender aerial refueling tankers with a ceremony on 13 July.

The first KC-10A to be retired, tail number 86-0036, was flown to the boneyard at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona, formally known as the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group, following the ceremony. The aircraft at the boneyard will support the remaining KC-10A aircraft with spare parts.

The US Air Force began retiring its KC-10A fleet with a ceremony on 13 July 2020 at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey. (US Air Force)

The US Air Force began retiring its KC-10A fleet with a ceremony on 13 July 2020 at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey. (US Air Force)

USAF spokesperson Second Lieutenant Emma Quirk said on 15 July that spare parts removed from retired KC-10As will vary according to the fleet supply posture and field demands. She said that even though the USAF continues to contract with industry partners providing supply chain services, supply chain and parts availability pose inevitable challenges to the maintenance and operation of the KC-10A as commercial use wanes of the DC-10 widebody airliner that the KC-10A fleet was built upon.

This first retired KC-10A was the first of three aircraft approved for retirement during fiscal year (FY) 2020. Lt Quirk said that the other two aircraft, tail numbers 87-0120 and 83-0077, are expected to be retired in September 2020.

The USAF will retire all 59 KC-10As and eventually replace them with Boeing KC-46A Pegasus aerial refueling tankers.

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The US Air Force (USAF) started retiring its fleet of McDonnell Douglas KC-10A Extender aerial refue...

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