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KC-10 serves 25 continuous years in CENTCOM

Airmen from the 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron inspect a KC-10 Extender on April 28, 2016, at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia. The KC-10 provides air refueling capabilities to U.S. and coalition aircraft in the CENTCOM theater. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Chad Warren)

Airmen from the 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron inspect a KC-10 Extender on April 28, 2016, at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia. The KC-10 provides air refueling capabilities to U.S. and coalition aircraft in the U.S. Central Command theater. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Chad Warren)

Airmen from the 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron inspect a KC-10 Extender on April 28, 2016, at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia. The KC-10 provides air refueling capabilities to U.S. and coalition aircraft in the CENTCOM theater. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Chad Warren)

Airmen from the 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron inspect a KC-10 Extender on April 28, 2016, at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia. The KC-10 provides air refueling capabilities to U.S. and coalition aircraft in the U.S. Central Command theater. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Chad Warren)

SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFNS) -- For more than two decades, the KC-10 Extender has been refueling U.S. and coalition aircraft from an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia.

This year marked 25 years of continuous operation for the aircraft from this location, and it is a vital piece in accomplishing U.S. Air Forces Central Command missions.

“We provide the air bridge between here and (other AFCENT locations),” said Senior Master Sgt. Claus, the 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Extender superintendent.

According to Claus, the combat aircraft couldn’t reach their destinations to deliver the munitions without the support of the KC-10s from the 908th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron. For example, an F-15E Strike Eagle might have to refuel up to five times to reach its target.

“This is a great location for planning the fuel in the (U.S. Central Command) area of responsibility,” said Capt. Todd, the 908th EARS assistant director of operations. “We can provide them gas all the way up and take care of them while they are in country as well.”

With such a high operations tempo, the KC-10 maintainers are deployed here more often than anywhere else.

According to Claus, it isn’t unusual for his Airmen to have 10-15 deployments here. With the Airmen all coming from either Travis Air Force Base, California, or Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, that means there is a sense of pride and ownership unusual to a deployed location.

“There’s a lot of history out here for us,” he said. “We are in two different locations in the U.S., but being deployed together so often it’s like we are one big aircraft maintenance unit.”

The unit comprises active-duty, Reserve and Air National Guard Airmen from eight different units spanning the two bases, embracing the total force concept to the highest degree.

“The total force integration here is the best I’ve seen in the AOR,” Peris said. “The versatility is a huge asset to the mission.”

After 25 years, the KC-10 is still providing crucial fuel to AFCENT combat aircraft.

“We have everything CENTCOM needs to continue getting airpower from our space to the battle space,” said Col. Johnny Barnes, the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing vice commander.

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