Several F-22 fighter jets that sustained minor damage during Hurricane Michael are expected to be moved from Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, as early as next week, a Pentagon spokesman said Oct. 22.
Following the hurricane’s landfall in the Florida panhandle on Oct. 10, reports emerged that multiple F-22 Raptors that were unable to fly out before the storm began had sustained damage in their hangars. (Defense Daily, Oct. 16)
Air Force officials have yet to confirm the number of impacted aircraft, but those that only sustained “minor damage” are currently being cleaned and repaired before being put back on flight-ready status, said Army Col. Robert Manning, DoD spokesman to reporters at the Pentagon on Monday.
“We expect to begin moving some of these aircraft to Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, as early as next week,” he said. That base was selected because it already hosts Raptor aircraft, he added. The 1st Fighter Wing stationed there, which includes the 27th and 94th Fighter Squadrons, flies and maintains one-third of the service’s F-22 fleet. The Virginia Air National Guard’s 192nd Fighter Wing housed there also flies Raptors. Langley is also home to the F-22 Raptor Demo Team.
“That base is obviously fully mission capable, they have F-22s there and they have got the maintainers on the ground to provide support to those aircraft,” Manning said.
Other aircraft that sustained damage and require additional engineering support and analysis are being repaired at Tyndall Air Force Base before being returned to flight status, he added.
Air Force public affairs officers declined to provide the numbers of F-22 aircraft that could be moving to Langley next week on Monday. The Raptor was a joint program between Lockheed Martin [LMT] and Boeing [BA] and first entered service in 2005.
Approximately 880 personnel are now on the ground at Tyndall supporting recovery efforts, Manning said. Over the last few days, over 400 airmen who were previously evacuated have returned to the base to inspect their homes and retrieve personal items, he added. Crews continue to clear debris, stabilize damaged hangars and repair aircraft, he said.