WASHINGTON – At the request of U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), the U.S. Air Force provided an updated plan to establish a new training mission for the AC-130J aircraft at Albuquerque’s Kirtland Air Force Base. The Air Force plans to initiate the Formal Training Unit relocation this year, which will result in aircraft and personnel being transferred to Kirtland from their current location in Florida over the next several years. According to a new report provided to Senator Heinrich, the Air Force has identified several repair and construction projects it will seek funding for in the coming years in order to support this relocation.
"I am eager to welcome this new unit to New Mexico. I have been advocating for Kirtland to host the AC-130J aircraft, and followed through to ensure that the Air Force carry out its plan to stand up the unit,” said Heinrich. “This training unit would align well with existing missions at both Kirtland and Cannon Air Force Bases, which benefit from New Mexico’s unrivaled airspace, our premier testing ranges, and our on-ground expertise. These factors combine to create an ideal base for training new aircraft units. I will continue working with the Air Force to make sure it has what it needs to prepare for the arrival of this new mission in Albuquerque.”
The AC-130J Formal Training Unit would educate and train pilots and aircraft crew how to operate the AC-130J platform in some of the most challenging environments in the world. The unit is expected to be composed of six primary aircraft and one additional maintenance aircraft. The mission would support up to 372 full-time Air Force personnel, with additional contract and maintenance support.
Senator Heinrich, Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies, secured language in the Omnibus Appropriations Agreement for Fiscal Year 2022 supporting efforts to stand up the AC-130J Formal Training Unit at Kirtland Air Force Base. The provision directed the Secretary of the Air Force to provide a report no later than 90 days after enactment of the law outlining the timeline for developing facilities requirements and to prioritize the beddown infrastructure needed for the AC-130J FTU within its military construction program.