U.S. Air Force Selects Kirtland AFB for AC-130J Ghostrider Formal Training Unit
The U.S. Air Force selected Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico as the preferred location for the relocation of the AC-130J Ghostrider Formal Training Unit (FTU) from Hurlburt Field, Florida.
According to an Air Force statement, this action allows for Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) to realign its training mission under Air Education and Training Command (AETC) and consolidate AC-130 initial and mission qualification training at Kirtland AFB.
The statement added that tis realignment includes seven aircraft and 372 positions.
The Air Force will now complete a required environmental impact analysis before a final decision is made, with the start of relocating the Formal Training Unit expected to begin in the summer of 2022.
AC-130J Ghostrider is a heavily armed, long-endurance, ground-attack variant of the C-130J SUper Hercules transport aircraft use by the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC). The AC-130J is the fourth generation gunship replacing the aging fleet of AC-130U “Spooky”/AC-130W Stinger II gunships.
The aircraft is armed with the Precision Strike Package (PSP) with 30mm and 105mm cannons and Standoff Precision Guided Munitions (i.e. GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) and AGM-176 Griffin missile)
The AC-130J Ghostrider’s primary missions are close air support (CAS), air interdiction and armed reconnaissance. Close air support missions include troops in contact, convoy escort and point air defense. Air interdiction missions are conducted against preplanned targets or targets of opportunity and include strike coordination and reconnaissance and overwatch mission sets.
The AC-130J achieved initial operational capacity in September 2017 and the last delivery is scheduled for fiscal 2021.