The KC-10A version of the Extender had its first flight on July 12, 1980. The aircraft is an Air Mobility Command advanced tanker and cargo aircraft designed to provide increased global mobility for U.S. armed forces. The first KC-10A was delivered to the Air Force on March 17 1981. The KC-10A force of 60 aircraft is based with the Air Combat Command at Barksdale AFB, La., and at March AFB, CA, beginning in the fall of 1982. The KC-10A is operated by the 305th Air Mobility Wing, McGuire Air Force Base, N.J.; and the 60th Air Mobility Wing, Travis AFB, Calif. Air Force Reserve Associate units are assigned to the 349th Air Mobility Wing at Travis, and the 514th Air Mobility Wing at McGuire.
The KC-10As primary mission is aerial refueling, and it can also combine the tasks of a tanker and cargo aircraft by refueling fighters and simultaneously carry the fighter support personnel and equipment on overseas deployments. The KC-10A can transport up to 75 people and nearly 170,000 pounds (76,560 kilograms) of cargo a distance of about 4,400 miles (7,040 kilometers) unrefueled.
Since Sept. 11, 2001, KC-10s have played a prominent role in the on-going Global War on Terrorism. The KC-10 has flown more than 350 missions guarding U.S. skies as a part of Operation Noble Eagle. During operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, KC-10s have flown more than 1,390 missions delivering critical air refueling support to numerous joint and coalition receiver aircraft.