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KC-10 Extender fuels way to Pacific

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Alexander Merchak
  • 60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

AVALON INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, Australia— Aircrew assigned to the 6th and 9th Air Refueling Squadrons, 60th Air Mobility Wing at Travis Air Force Base, California, provided cargo, passenger and in-air refueling support to and from the 2023 Australian International Airshow and Aerospace and Defense Exposition at Avalon International Airport, Victoria, Australia Feb. 21 – March 8, 2023.

The Team Travis KC-10 aircrew supported a cargo movement, transporting 11,000 pounds of general cargo to Kadena Air Base, Japan enhancing integrated tanker capabilities through multiple-tanker, coronet missions across the Indo-Pacific region.

From Kadena AB, the KC-10 aircrew gained passengers and cargo. Additionally, the tanker provided coronet support, a tactical air movement that typically involves multiple fighter aircraft, for three F-22 Raptor aircraft assigned to the 525th Fighter Squadron at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, and two F-15C aircraft assigned to the 67th Fighter Squadron at Kadena AB.

“This trip really proved our ability to get our fighters to their destination, anywhere at any time,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Jeffrey Schafer, 9th Air Refueling Squadron KC-10 pilot and aircraft commander. “It proved the that the KC-10 can still effectively operate and accomplish the mission during our transition [to the KC-46A Pegasus], ensuring that we continue to have a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

Providing support alongside the KC-10 were four KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft: three assigned to 909th Air Refueling Squadron at Kadena AB, and one assigned to the 174th Air Refueling Squadron at Sioux City Air National Guard, Iowa.

“This isn’t the first and won’t be the last time a mission like this is generated,” said Schafer. “As a tanker community, our goal is to get the receivers to their destination on time.”

The five-tanker aircraft traveled to the 2023 Avalon event, not only to provide operational refueling enroute, but to showcase the importance of Mobility Air Forces in support of our Pacific partners.

Avalon is Australia’s premiere aerospace exhibition airshow and tradeshow, offering opportunities for industry and defense representatives as well tourists in the Pacific area to witness the importance of partnerships, alliances, and airpower. The 2023 Avalon event hosted distinguished visitors from 40 different countries.

“There’s no other country with whom the U.S. trains more closely, operates more seamlessly and with whom we share more of our most sensitive technologies,” said U.S. Ambassador to Australia, Caroline Kennedy, during the opening ceremony. “There’s no other military that we have fought, side-by-side, in every major conflict for more than 100 years.”

The aircrew highlighted the KC-10 and its capabilities to over 200,000 people during the event and won the 2023 Avalon “Best Military Tanker” award.

"This further emphasizes how critical our role is to the movement of multiple aircraft around the world," said Schafer. "Participation in airshows, like this one, give us the opportunity to highlight that our aerial refueling capabilities extend to all receiver-capable aircraft, which opens multiple doors for potential missions not only with our joint partners, but international allies as well.”

Upon departure from Avalon, the aircrew traveled in a unique formation with a KC-135 aircraft assigned to the 174th ARS and a KC-46 aircraft assigned to the 344th Air Refueling Squadron at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas.

“These kinds of opportunities give aircrews the chance to demonstrate the capabilities of their aircraft as well as to network with other military from around the world,” said Schafer. “We presented ourselves and our mission well, and we look forward to more tanker training opportunities in the Indo-Pacific area of responsibility.”

During this mission, the KC-10 aircrew offloaded more than 135,000 pounds of fuel, transported more than 24,000 pounds of cargo and 25 passengers, showcasing rapid global mobility and reinforcing our relationship with our INDOPACOM partners and allies.