U.S. Air Force KC-10 Extender aircraft, typically used in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility for aerial refueling missions, recently flexed to streamline a major movement of cargo, personnel and F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft across the theater. The 494th hit the ground running at ADAB and spent 66 days supporting the CENTCOM Air Tasking Order. During these missions, KC-10s from the 908th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron frequently provided aerial refueling support to the fighter squadron, so the two units enjoyed a close partnership.
“We have worked with the F-15s out of ADAB for years. We support dragging the fighters stationed at ADAB into country and remain with them as a dedicated tanker, or we fly into country and support specific tanker contracts with the F-15s from other bases to ensure they can accomplish their mission without divert. Without the KC-10 to help, they were hard pressed to make the trip all in one go,” explained Maj. Austin Bentley, operations officer, 908 EARS.
Approximately half of the 494th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron forward deployed to ADAB from an undisclosed location in April in order to “support the Resolute Support mission set and improve the defensive posture in the Arabian Peninsula, as well as to highlight the 494th’s ability to project power forward into the AOR utilizing the agile combat employment concept,” explained U.S. Air Force Capt. Trey Pollard, F-15E fighter weapons systems officer, 494 EFS.
The McDonnell Douglas KC-10 Extender is an American aerial refueling tanker aircraft operated by the United States Air Force (USAF). A military version of the three-engined DC-10 airliner, the KC-10 was developed from the Advanced Tanker Cargo Aircraft Program.[N 1] It incorporates military-specific equipment for its primary roles of transport and aerial refueling. It was developed to supplement the KC-135 Stratotanker following experiences in Southeast Asia and the Middle East. The KC-10 was the second McDonnell Douglas transport aircraft to be selected by the Air Force following the C-9. A total of 60 KC-10s were produced for the U.S. Air Force.