McDonnel Douglas KDC-10
Introducing the Dutch TT-fleet
The two Dutch Air Force (RNLAF) KDC-10 “Jan Scheffer” (T-235), “Prins Bernhard” (T-264) are based at Eindhoven AFB with the 334 Squadron – not far away from the EATC building.
Not long ago the EATC also used a Dutch DC-10, that was purchased from United Airlines in 2006 and received the serial Number T-255. This aircraft was taken out of EATC-service per 1 January 2014. The DC-10 was used for strategic transport of cargo, while a further DC-10 was purchased to remain in the Arizona desert – to deliver spare parts for the other three running aircraft.
Trustworthy and versatile
The KDC-10s are the largest aircrafts of the Dutch Air Force (RNLAF). Both KDC-10s are considered TT-aircrafts (Tanker Transport), a military capability description that was taken over from an Airbus trademark. Both aircraft were bought from "Martin Air" as commercial airliner in 1992 (as DC-10) and being modified to preferably execute military air-to-air refueling (AAR).
The KDC-10 can be used for combined strategic transport of passengers and cargo even simultaneously with AAR.
The precise type description of the DC-10-30CF explains: “-30”stands for an extended range and “CF” stands for “Convertible Freighter”. This indicates the flexibility to convert the airplane from cargo into a passengers configuration and vice versa. Compared to the regular DC-10, it also indicates a gain in cargo weight capacity, that’s why from origin a centre landing gear was added to the aircraft.
Acting all over the world
By supporting deployments into remote areas as well as ferrying fighterjets from one continent to another, the KDC-10 is of high value for the EATC, but also and always a good alternative for civilian relief flights (e.g. Tsunami disaster in South East Asia, earthquake in Haiti) as well as for aeromedical evacuation (AE) purposes (e.g., Lebanon, Ivory Coast, Tsunami), whether civilians are in danger abroad or soldiers got wounded/harmed in action during remote missions anywhere on this planet.
The KDC-10 combi configuration is therefore equipped with 152 seats and can carry up to 16 medical stretchers on board.
Both aircraft have been modernized by the use of a Cockpit Upgrade Program (CUP). Electronic flight information systems (EFIS), Electronic Instruments Display System (EIDS) and a flight management system are visualized on huge cockpits screens that have replaced the legacy analogue instruments. The Behind Line Of Sight (BLOS) Link-16 capable data-link-system allows the cockpit crew to communicate with “friendly” aircrafts or Command Centers all over this planet in order to exchange real time data.
An extraordinary boomer
Every aircraft equipped with a Universal Aerial Refueling Slipway System Installation (UARSSI) can receive fuel from the KDC-10 – no matter if the aircraft to be refuelled is a fighterjet or possibly a (large) transport aircraft. Therefore also big aircrafts like the C-17 Globemaster (see picture) can be supplied in order to extend its strategic range capacity. Another example are AWACS aircrafts who need to stay in the air for prolonged periods of time in order to act permanently as early warning- or C2- (command & control) platform for any kind of air operations.
In contrast to the KC-10 tanker of the US Air Force - where the “boom-operator” conducts the refueling through an Air Refueling Operator station (ARO) / a window in the back of the aircraft - the Dutch version does not controls its “boom” from the rear of the aircrafts fuselage. In fact there is a complete operating system with computers and video monitors just behind the cockpit area. This system called Remote Air Refueling Operating (RARO) allows to watch and remotely direct the boom: three surveillance cameras follow the approaching aircraft and enable a 180 degree angle view behind the tanker. Two stereo cameras produce a 3-dimensional picture for the actual refueling. The cameras transfer very clear pictures, working near infrared to operate safely at night and can also change the given view by using different digital filters - depending on the current lighting circumstances during the AAR-operation.
Both boom-operator and pilot of the fuelling aircraft (receiver) can communicate with each other by radio or visual signs to guide the receiver precisely behind the aircraft. Finally, the Boomoperator uses Underbody Pilot Director Lights to direct the receiver pilot into the correct refueling position.
The telescopic boom now can be extended - from 8 meters to 15 meters long, delivering up to 1750 litres of fuel per minute.
Words: Norbert Thomas
Pictures: RNLAF media