The world’s skies will be a little less sexy starting next year.
The Air Force on Sept. 1, 2024, will retire its fleet of KC-10A Extenders, aerial refuelers that can also transport troops or cargo, an Air Force news release said. The KC-10, which entered service in 1981 and has been operated by the 70th Air Refueling Squadron at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., since 1994, is known as “Big Sexy” by aircrews due to its “sleek and graceful wing design.”
“A more capable aircraft may never be built compared to the KC-10A Extender,” Chief Master Sgt. Donald P. Davis, chief boom operator with 70th ARS, said in the release. “The range, fuel delivery and cargo capability are second to none.”
The 59-plane fleet will be retired to make way for the KC-46A Pegasus, which will begin to arrive at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., this year.
The Air Force has contracted 128 KC-46s as of Jan. 30, according to a news release from Boeing. While the fleet will be larger, the Pegasus has less carrying capacity than the Extender. The KC-10 can carry 170,000 pounds of cargo and 356,000 pounds of fuel with a maximum takeoff weight of 590,000 pounds, compared with 212,299 pounds of fuel and 65,000 pounds of cargo for the KC-46, according to Air Force fact sheets.
The KC-10 was used during the 1991 Gulf War, and flew more than 1,300 missions in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the fact sheet.
“Probably the one thing I am going to miss the most is the view in the back,” said Staff Sgt. Jared M. Breaux, a boom operator with 70th ARS, in the Air Force release. “Not having that window back there to just look out of and to have that contact.”