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A McDonnell Douglas KC-10 refuels a Lockheed SR-71

DAYTON, Ohio - Exhibit of a KC-10 refueling the SR-71 on display in the Cold War Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio - Exhibit of a KC-10 refueling the SR-71 on display in the Cold War Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

(approximately 1/48 scale)

Tankers, like the KC-10 and the smaller Boeing KC-135, permit the refueling of other aircraft in flight, extending their range to permit global missions. Fuel is transferred to the receiver aircraft by way of a boom mounted on the tanker's lower aft fuselage. Operation of the refueling system is controlled by the boom operator, or "Boomer." While the receiver maintains formation with the tanker, the boom is flown into contact with the receiver receptacle and transfer occurs (Other versions of the system use a probe and drouge system, not shown here.). The KC-10 can transfer more than 200,000 pounds of fuel, or about 31,000 gallons, to other aircraft during a single mission. The KC-10 itself can be refueled in-flight from another tanker.

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