"The KC-10 is reaching the end of its era, but it was great to employ it one last time. Its served its purpose well so these final flights are really bittersweet, but we look forward to a bright new future with the KC-46," said in a statement U.S. Air Force Capt. Robert Bedell, KC-10 detachment operations officer.
Introduced in 1981 as both a refueling tanker and as a transport that can carry personnel and equipment on overseas deployments, the Boeing machine can transport 356,000 pounds (160,200 kilograms) of fuel or up to 75 people and nearly 170,000 pounds (76,560 kilograms) of cargo, for distances that can reach 4,400 miles (7,040 km).
The price of such a plane, in fiscal 1998 constant dollars, is $88.4 million. At the time of writing, the USAF lists 59 such planes in its active force fleet.
The military branch has a few options on the table for its future refueling needs, and one of them is the Lockheed Martin LMXT. Envisioned as a direct successor to the other tanker family in the American arsenal, the KC-135 Stratotanker, it is supposed to become operational sometime by the end of the decade.