WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, welcomed the U.S. Air Force’s announcement that Albuquerque’s Kirtland Air Force Base is the preferred installation to host a new training mission for the AC-130J aircraft.
“I am greatly encouraged that Kirtland has been selected as the preferred location for a major Air Force Special Operations training mission,” said Heinrich. “It's been an honor to advocate for Kirtland to host this new mission and worked to ensure this year’s National Defense Authorization Act would enable the Air Force to carry out its plan to stand up the unit. 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 look forward to working with the Air Force over the next two years to make sure the Air Force has what it needs to prepare for the arrival of this new mission.”
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 338 full-time Air Force personnel, with additional contract and maintenance support. The mission is expected to begin transferring to Kirtland from its current location in Florida in 2022.