USAF Announces Grey Wolf, AC-130J Formal Training Unit Basing Plans

Air Force Secretary Barbara M. Barrett wants to base the service’s MH-139A Grey Wolf Formal Training Unit at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., the Department of the Air Force announced Nov. 20. The same day, USAF also announced it wants to move its AC-130J Ghostrider Formal Training Unit from Hurlburt Field, Fla., to Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M.

The MH-139A FTU will be tasked with preparing pilots to safeguard intercontinental ballistic missile fields in five states, according to the release. 

“As the lead command for the Air Force’s MH-139 helicopter fleet, bringing the MH-139 FTU online is an important step to ensure the nation’s nuclear triad remains safe, secure, effective, and ready,” Air Force Global Strike Command boss Gen. Timothy M. Ray said in the release.

USAF’s Grey Wolf pack is also equipped to handle “search and rescue, airlift support, National Capitol Region missions, as well as survival school and test support,” the release added. 

The AC-130J is a highly modified C-130J capable of extremely accurate navigation due to the fully integrated navigation systems with dual inertial navigation systems and global positioning system. Photo: USAF

The decision to move AC-130J Ghostrider Formal Training Unit “allows for Air Force Special Operations Command to realign its training mission under Air Education and Training Command and consolidate AC-130 initial and mission qualification training at Kirtland AFB,” the Department of the Air Force wrote in a separate release.

USAF can’t finalize the moves until it finishes mandatory environmental impact analyses, the releases noted. 

However, the Department of the Air Force said it expects to make its final Grey Wolf FTU basing decision next winter, and to begin the process of moving the AC-130J FTU—including “seven aircraft and 372 positions”—in summer 2022.