The Royal Netherlands Air Force retires its last KDC-10 tanker

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KDC-10 T-235 © Benoît Denet

On Thursday 7 October, the last KDC-10 tanker and transport aircraft of the Royal Netherlands Air Force (tail number T-235 ‘Jan Scheffer’) will carry out a farewell flight past Dutch airbases and airports around the country.

The aircraft will depart from Eindhoven airbase and fly at a low altitude towards the military airbases in Volkel, Leeuwarden, Den Helder, Woensdrecht and Gilze-Rijen. It will also fly over the airports of Texel, Amsterdam Schiphol and Rotterdam-The Hague and the headquarters of the Air Force in Breda.

On October 25, the aircraft will leave the Netherlands and will be flown to its new owner in the United States, Omega Aerial Refueling Services, who also received the first aircraft (T-264 ‘Prins Bernhard’) at the end of 2019.

Itinerary of the Dutch KDC-10 farewell flight

The two Dutch KDC-10s (with tail numbers T-264 and T-235) were used for both refuelling and transport. They were stationed at Eindhoven Airbase as part of the 334th Transport Squadron. During the first 3 years of use, the aircraft were used in their tanker role for 50% of the time. Besides being used by the air force and NATO allies, the KDC-10s are also used to support peacekeeping and humanitarian aid operations.

In this function, the aircraft have been deployed to Kosovo to evacuate refugees, to the Caribbean and Central America to provide humanitarian aid after the hurricanes Luis, Georges and Mitch and to various countries in Africa and Asia to provide development aid. In 1998, the aircraft were also used to evacuate Dutch citizens from Indonesia during the fall of Suharto. Dutch KDC-10s have been operating out of Manas AFB in support of allied forces during Operation Enduring Freedom and in support of the Allied Air Forces over Iraq and Syria.

A third KDC-10, registered T-255 was acquired and served for three years before being withdrawn from service in April 2014 due to Dutch defence cuts and flown to Newquay Airport for scrapping.

The KDC-10s in Dutch service are in the process of being replaced with the Airbus A330 MRTT.

KDC-10 T-264 © Benoît Denet
KDC-10 T-264 © Benoît Denet

Thanks to Benoît Denet for the original pictures.

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