551st Special Operations Squadron [551st SOS]
The 551st Special Operations Squadron was originally designated as the 1551st Flying Training Squadron and activated 1 April 1971 at Hill AFB, UT, and assigned to the 1550th Aircrew Training and Test Wing, 1550th Combat Crew Training Wing.
Aircraft operated by the squadron included the H-3(1971-1992); H-43(1971-1975); H-53(1971-1987); HC-130(1973-1987); UH-1(1987); H-60(1990).
The squadron relocated to Kirtland AFB, NM, on 15 March 1976.
It was redesignated as the 551st Flying Training Squadron on 1 October 1991 and assigned to the 542 Operations Group.
The 551st was redesignated as the 551st Special Operations Squadron on 1 April 1994 and reassigned to the 58th Special Operations Wing's Operations Group. That same year, the squadron transitioned to the MH-53A and MH-53J aircraft.
The 551st SOS is tasked with conducting flying training in helicopters, as well as being responsible for special operations contingencies, exercises, and humanitarian rescue missions.
With the CV-22 being proposed to eventually replace the MH-53s and some MC-130s in US Air Force inventory, the 58th SOW is scheduled to be the home of the first squadron of CV-22s. Aircrew members as well as maintenance personnel are scheduled to receive their initial training at New River, Marine Corps Air Station, NC, and to then come back to Kirtland AFB to receive Air Force-specific training.
As of August 1999, the 551st appeared to be the unit which would, in the future, be responsible for operating the CV-22 school scheduled to be formed within the 58th SOW while the 58th Training Support Squadron (58th TRSS) would be responsible for operating the school's simulator facilities. The school would be tasked with providing Special Operations Forces(SOF) peculiar aircrew training.
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