While AFSOC’s 27th Special Operations Wing would have priority access to the open training space on Melrose (see above), the air commandos won’t be alone according to Lt. Col. Toby Corey, ops boss for the 27th Special Operations Support Squadron. In addition to hosting special tactics training from AFSOC units based at Hurlburt Field, Fla., the 27th SOW will be able to work closely with the nearby 58th Special Operations Wing at Kirtland AFB, N.M. The 58th SOW, an Air Education and Training Command unit, is the schoolhouse for AFSOC’s helicopter and MC-130 crews and has picked up the training role for the new CV-22. “They are familiar with the environment and the terrain and it will a benefit to have them nearby,” Corey said. The short distance for both the Kirtland and Cannon SOF units to the training range also means shorter missions—meaning both the schoolhouse and the wing will get more chances to train.
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.