Download eBook for Free

Full Document

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 1.8 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.

Summary Only

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 0.2 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.


Purchase Print Copy

 Format Price
Add to Cart Paperback104 pages $35.00

The U.S. Air Force's KC-10 air refueling fleet has been in operation since 1981 without significant modernization. The Air Force is considering upgrades to the KC-10 in several areas: avionics, command and control, multipoint refueling, defensive systems, and compatibility with night-vision systems. To be cost-effective, an upgrade must return a benefit that outweighs its cost over the lifetime of the fleet. For some options, this calculation depends heavily on the KC-10's mission mix, the type of role it plays (refueling only, airlift only, or dual-role), distance from base, and the number of fighters it must refuel. An assessment of options to upgrade the KC-10 — specifically, to add a tactical data link, advanced avionics, additional multipoint refueling capability, a suite of defensive systems, and lighting that is compatible with night-vision devices — weighed the costs and potential benefits of the upgrades against demands in homeland defense, theater employment, deployment, and air bridge operations and other KC-10 roles. The tactical data link, avionics upgrade, and additional multipoint refueling capability were the most cost-effective options. Defensive system upgrades could be cost-effective with the right mission mix and KC-10 role. The findings show that the night vision–compatible lighting upgrade would not be cost-effective for the KC-10. The full avionics upgrade analysis is documented Assessing the Cost-Effectiveness of Modernizing the KC-10 to Meet Global Air Traffic Management Mandates.

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was sponsored by the United States Air Force and conducted by RAND Project AIR FORCE.

This report is part of the RAND technical report series. RAND technical reports may include research findings on a specific topic that is limited in scope or intended for a narrow audience; present discussions of the methodology employed in research; provide literature reviews, survey instruments, modeling exercises, guidelines for practitioners and research professionals, and supporting documentation; or deliver preliminary findings. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure that they meet high standards for research quality and objectivity.

This document and trademark(s) contained herein are protected by law. This representation of RAND intellectual property is provided for noncommercial use only. Unauthorized posting of this publication online is prohibited; linking directly to this product page is encouraged. Permission is required from RAND to reproduce, or reuse in another form, any of its research documents for commercial purposes. For information on reprint and reuse permissions, please visit

RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.