KC10 Extender & Joint Base MDL

Author T.Urbild

Mc Guire Air Force Base  – or nowadays Joint Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst – is one of the largest installations of the US Armed Forces. Situated in New Jersey about 30 miles east of Philadelphia the base truly incorporates the Joint Base mentality. Fort Dix, the US Army part, ia a training site for Army Reserve and National Guard soldiers. Lakehurst , the former NAS Lakehurst, provides support for aircraft launch, recovery and support equipment systems for U.S. and allied Naval Aviation Forces at sea and Marine Corps Expeditionary Aviation Forces ashore.

McGuire AFB itself  forms the center of this huge conglomerate. It houses most of the aviation units. The Air Force part consists of the 305th Air Mobility Wing with the 2nd and 32nd Aerial refueling Squadrons flying the KC-10 Extender and the 6th Airlift Sqadron flying the C-17A Globemaster III. In addition you find the respective  Air Force Reserve Command  514th AMW incorporating  the 76th and 78th ARS flying KC-10s and the 732nd AS flying C-17As.

The Navy occupies an areal in the north eastern part of the base flyind C-130Ts of VR-64.

The New Jersey Air National Guars operates KC-135Rs from the western part of the base. Finally the somewhat secretive C-32B a more or less updated Boeing 757-200 Airliner is also operated from here.

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KC-10 Extender

The KC-10 program dates back to the experiences made over Vietnam and the US Air Force stated the need for a larger and more capable aerial refuelling platform than the KC-135 Stratotanker. The DC-10-30 was considered suiteable and consequently modified to the aerial refueling role. Modifications included additional fuel tanks in the fuselage which bring the maximum fuel capacity to 356,000lbs or roughly 161,00kg. A new refuelling boom was developed and 2 drouge and hose systems installed for non Air Force aircraft. The KC-10 can also be used for cargo or passenger transport. In this role, up to 75 passengers and 146,00lbs /66,000kg can be loaded onto the aircraft.

JB MDL is only one of two bases housing the KC-10 Extender with the other one being Travis AFB in California. This means that in theory about 30 KC-10s can be found here but the actual number is significantly lower with several planes being deployed around the globe.

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The Mission

On this day in November we boarded KC-10 87-0118 for a mission off the coast of New Jersey. The Crew was supplied by the 32nd Air Refuelling Squadron and consisted of Aircraft Commander Capt. William Duck, Co Pilot Capt. Richard Casburn and  Flight Engineer MSgt. Joel Patrick.  Boom Operator was SrA Alyxander Revell.


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It was planned that we should receive fuel from an KC-135 of the 121st ARS from the Ohio ANG but unfortunately adverse weather in Ohio led to the cancellation of this mission.

With a two hour delay the Crew startet the three engines and we went off-block at 12.16 local time. While the last checks were finished, we slowly taxied by the remaining KC-10s on the tamarc. With no more traffic in the vicinity we made a backtrack on McGuires main runway 24 to get to the threshold of runway 06. Take off clearance was quickly granted and we lifted off the 10000ft runway at 12:37lcl . Due to the relativly light Grossweight of 358,00lbs including 110,00lbs of fuel we quickly gained altitude. Still following Point Pleasant departure route we passed a thin layer of clouds at 5000ft and turned east heading to the atlantic coast line. We continued our climb to FL220 and entered the refuelling track.

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Receiver aircraft that day was the rare US Navy E-6B Mercury. The E-6B is based at Tinker AFB /Oklahoma and is a STRATCOM (Stratigic Communication) platform responsible for ensuring communication to the strategic submarine fleet as well as land based missile units.

SrA Revell moved into his postion at the back of the aircraft and went through the checklists. The boom was lowered and checked and soon thereafter E-6B 164410 was cleared onto the boom. Contact was quickly established and the 4 fuel pumps started to transfer 10,000lbs of fuel. After completion of the fuel transfer several „dry contacts“ were made for pilots training. The whole procedure lasted for roughly 40 minutes before the E-6B descended away from the tanker aircraft to continue its mission.

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We turned west to start our descend through New Yorks busy departure and arrival airspace back towards McGuire.

Meanwhile a thick layer of clouds had moved into the area and we made ground countact while descending through 3000ft. Below the clouds the visibility was good so that we were cleared for the visual approach to runway 06. We touched down at 14:37lcl exactly two hours after our departure time. Once we vacated runway 06 it was only a quick taxi back  to the apron. The crew was instructed to park the aircraft onstand V2 and engines were shut off at 14:45lcl.

This marked the end of a brilliant day at JB MDL.


I´d like to thank the public affairs office of JB MDL in particular Christina Douglas, SSgt Caitlin Jones, A1C Joshua King and the flying crew Capt. Duck, Casburn, MSgt Patrick and SrA Revell.