Tyndall AFB, Fla., would no longer host an operational squadron of F-22 Raptors and instead would become the home of three F-35 Lightning II fighter squadrons starting in 2023, under a plan Air Force officials announced last week. The service is asking Congress for supplemental funding to repair the catastrophic damage Tyndall suffered when Hurricane Michael swept through the Florida Panhandle on Oct. 10. “We have recommended that the best path forward to increase readiness and use money wisely is to consolidate the operational F-22s formerly at Tyndall in Alaska, Hawaii and Virginia, and make the decision now to put the next three squadrons of F-35s beyond those for which we have already made decisions at Tyndall,” Secretary Heather Wilson said in a press release.
The move would mean operational F-22s that had been based at Tyndall would be permanently relocated to other bases that are now temporarily housing them — Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., JB Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, and JB Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. Those F-22 squadrons would grow from 21 to 24 fighters apiece to accommodate the new aircraft. The Air Force plans to conduct a formal process to determine the best location for the F-22 training squadron moved from Tyndall to nearby Eglin AFB following the Category 4 storm.
Basing decisions for the F-35 already announced in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Texas, Utah, Vermont and Wisconsin would not be affected by the plan to establish three squadrons of the fifth-generation fighter at Tyndall, according to the release.
Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cory Payne