This story is a staff report from The Paper.


Kirtland Air Force Base has been selected by the Air Force as the home of a major special operations training program. The AC-130J Ghostrider Formal Training Unit, currently headquartered in Florida, will relocate to New Mexico in 2022.

“I am greatly encouraged that Kirtland has been selected as the preferred location for a major Air Force Special Operations training mission,” US Senator Martin Heinrich, a member of the Armed Services Committee, said. “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.”

The mission operates under the Special Operations Command which already uses Kirtland AFB for a number of other missions. According to the Air Force, the AC-130J is a highly modified version of the C-130J aircraft used primarily for special forces operations around the world. When complete, the transfer of the unit would include 7 new aircraft and 372 new positions for KAFB.