By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer
Editor’s note: The Clovis News Journal contacted officials with Cannon Air Force Base’s new mission, Air Force Special Operations, via e-mail to learn more about plans for Cannon. AFSOC will assume ownership of Cannon in October, less than seven months down the road.
Q: A recent publication indicated AFSOC has plans to establish a Cannon squadron whose purpose is to instruct foreign militaries at their bases. Is this true? At the home of AFSOC, Hurlburt Field, that squadron has 105 airmen and is called the 6th.
A: The information in the above statement is accurate. A second squadron has been proposed for Cannon. The airmen of the 6th Special Operations Squadron are known as aviation foreign internal defense advisors.
Q:What aircraft is AFSOC planning to house at Cannon?
A:The Air Force Special Operations Command proposes to station several aircraft at Cannon, including MC-130s, AC-130s, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), CV-22 Ospreys and some small airlift aircraft.
Q:Tell us about the MC-130 flight simulator facility planned for Cannon.
A: The MC-130W flight simulator facility planned for Cannon will house a state-of-the-art simulator that precisely replicates the flight deck of AFSOC’s new MC-130W aircraft.
This training device will be similar to other AFSOC MC-130 flight simulators currently in use at Hurlburt Field for other versions of the MC-130.
Q:How does the simulator work?
A:Current technology generates visual images, instrument, and sensor indications that create an environment virtually identical to the actual plane in flight. This capability allows the flight crews to train at any time of the day or night and in any weather, regardless of aircraft availability. Typical training flights last three to four hours.
Q:What are some advantages of training with a simulator?
A:By accomplishing much of the required flying training in a simulator, AFSOC reduces its fuel consumption and maintenance costs significantly.
Q:Recent publications indicate an aircraft slated to be housed at Cannon, the CV-22 Osprey, was plagued by frequent flight delays and required excessive maintenance during desert testing last summer in New Mexico. Does this affect that plan?
A:AFSOC still plans to have a squadron of CV-22 Ospreys at Cannon Air Force Base.
Q:By law, an environmental impact study must measure the impact of the new mission on the community before AFSOC assets can be moved to Cannon. When will the draft of the study be released?
A:We are hoping to release the draft EIS by the end of March. Following the release, we will hold public hearings to take any comments and concerns from affected individuals. Once the draft is released, we will advertise in the media outlets of Clovis, Fort Sumner and Clayton on availability and the scheduling of the public hearings.
Q:What type of training units will come to Cannon?
A:In the future, we may open a training unit for those aircraft unique to Cannon Air Force Base. There is nothing planned at this time.
As of right now, training for the AC-130 will remain at Hurlburt Field; training for the MC-130 will remain at Kirtland Air Force Base; and training for the CV-22 will take place at Kirtland Air Force Base and Hurlburt Field.
Note: Answers provided by AFSOC Public Affairs representative Denise Boyd and compiled by CNJ staff writer Marlena Hartz.