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New Mexico base to be new training site for attack aircraft

March 25, 2022 GMT

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico will be the new location for training pilots and other crew members to operate a type of large attack planes flown by the Air Force Special Operations Command, a member of the state’s congressional delegation announced Friday.

The establishment of the AC-130J training mission at the Albuquerque base over the next several years will involve up to 372 full-time Air Force personnel plus an unspecified number of additional contract and maintenance support jobs, Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., said in a statement released by his office.

The statement said seven AC-130Js will be assigned to Kirtland for the training mission, which an Air Force report released by Heinrich’s office said is part of a relocation from Hurlburt Field, an Air Force installation in Florida.

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The report said locating the training mission at Kirtland provides efficiencies because the base already hosts a training mission for MC-130J aircraft, another type of special-purpose aircraft derived from the widely used C-130 transport.

“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,” Heinrich said.