KC10Yissachar Ruas

Ever wonder what presents a strong military? The answer lies within its logistical capability. Militaries that are capable of providing a good logistical answer for their troops generally have an easier time bringing the battle to the enemy more effectively. 

The US Military has long been known for its military might, the proof of that lays within the confines of the 305 Air Mobility Wing. The Wing is located at Mcguire AFB New Jersey and consists of three types of logistical aircraft, the C-17 heavy transport the KC-135 Tanker and the most interesting of the three, the KC 10 Tanker, known affectionately as the “Extender." 

Recently, Arutz Sheva was granted access to Mcguire AFB and allowed a glimpse into the unit’s training operations. We met with various personnel and had the unique opportunity of joining them for a mission.

The KC-10 is a derivative of the civilian commercial aircraft the McDonnell Douglas DC-10. The aircraft looks a bit unconventional with an engine under each wing and one mounted on its centerline stabilizer which provides the aircraft with its one of a kind look.

KC-10 crews may not be aware of this, but Israel is actually responsible for these aircraft flying within the US Air Force, due to mobility issues that had come up during the US attempts to resupply Israel during the Yom Kippur War. These issues showed extreme flaws in the USAF’s capability to send troops and armament around the world, the solution found for this issue was converting original DC-10 civilian aircraft into the  KC-10 cargo/tanker military aircraft.

The 305th provides continuous support for all types of operations in theater, most of its crew members have deployment experience from around the world. Airmen of the 305th have participated in operations such as “Iraqi Freedom” “Enduring Freedom” and “Inherent Resolve." 

The KC-10 acts as an aerial tanker for the most part, many of the 305th’s missions are performed “in-house” with C-17’s ferrying troops and supplies to forward locations with the KC-10 providing midair refueling support to get the aircraft to their destination quickly and effectively. 

But not all missions are logistical support, a brunt of the missions are also in support of combat operations such as “Inherent Resolve” taking place currently in Syria. The unit provides refueling support for all aircraft in the Syrian combat zone.

An inside look

Leading the mission Arutz Sheva got to fly on was Lt. Daniel Derusha. Derusha started out his pilot training in 2008, in 2010 he was assigned to the KC-10 and has been flying out of Maguire ever since.

Lt. Derusha welcomed us aboard and gives us a short brief on regulations before take-off. The KC-10 Derusha is commanding today has a standard crew of 4, on the mission I flew there were an additional amount of pilots in training flying with us in order to qualify on various certifications.

Since this is my first time on the aircraft, Derusha guides me to a seat in the cockpit alongside the flight engineer.

While talking to Derusha, it turns out he had wanted to fly since being a young boy in Michigan, for him flying meant fulfilling his lifelong dream, something which seems very apparent with his smile which is always present.

Airman Ryan Spero a “boom” operator on the KC-10 is in charge of our aircraft providing an 305 AMW C-17 with fuel during the mission, according to him the KC-10 is a much more capable aircraft with a much greater capacity of both fuel and cargo despite having one engine less than the KC-135.

As I found out, Airman Spero definitely has the best seat in the house, his “office” has three nice-sized lounge chairs in front of a pretty big glass window allowing him to see the C-17 from miles out making his approach to us. For several hours the C-17 pilots will practice “hooking up” to the boom. The sight of this enormous aircraft flying just several feet under us is both exhilarating and scary at the same time, one wrong move and we could very well be in an unwanted situation. 

Following the C-17 refueling off of us its now time for our pilots to practice refueling from a KC-135. If I thought us refueling the C-17 looked scary, sitting in the cockpit while we refueled from the KC-135 showed just how proficient and qualified a USAF aviator must be. The pilots in training go first, they do a number of rounds and then its our crews turn, Lt. Derusha closes in with the KC-10 on the KC-135 and manages to hook up very proficiently, all the while making the necessary corrections to keep us within a safe envelope of flight with the KC-135.

The “hook up” is pretty exhilarating, we spend a number of minutes taking on fuel after which we disengage and the KC-135 climbs while we dive so as to create the necessary safety separation between aircraft.   

All in all almost 20 airmen combined on 3 different aircraft in the Wing spent almost a full workday in the air training, this is a pretty routine day I am told. The proficiency and skill required by these aviators is no less demanding then that of a fighter pilot, in some cases one could argue that their job is considerably more dangerous. 

For Lt. Derusha, Airman Spero and the rest of the 305th this was just another “regular” day at the office.