Tyndall AFB, Fla., said on March 29 that the U.S. Air Force has issued a Record of Decision that affirms Tyndall as the location for three, new squadrons of Lockheed Martin [LMT] F-35A Lightning II fighters starting in September 2023.
“Air Force officials selected Tyndall based on numerous attributes, including infrastructure capability, quality of life for airmen, and airspace,” Tyndall said. “The selection process included a thorough environmental impact analysis, in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act.”
The AFWERX Base of the Future initiative took root from Hurricane Michael’s destruction of Tyndall in October 2018. COVID-19 delayed a planned reopening of Tyndall, which sustained more than $4 billion in damage from Hurricane Michael and which moved Lockheed Martin F-22 fighters belonging to Tyndall’s 325th Fighter Wing to Eglin AFB, Fla., after the hurricane. The latter damaged some of those fighters.
In September 2023, Tyndall is to receive the first squadron of 24 F-35As. Another two squadrons–48 planes–will follow.
Hurricane Michael “has allowed the Air Force to rebuild the base to accommodate the unique needs of the F-35A,” per Tyndall, which adjoins the Gulf Range Complex and has 130,000 square miles of training airspace over the Gulf of Mexico.
As one of the few ranges in the U.S. able to support large-scale air combat training, Tyndall said that “direct access to this range is essential for fifth-generation fighter readiness and for live-fire testing and training.”
Air Force Col. Greg Moseley, the commander of the 325th Fighter Wing, said in a statement that “air dominance is critical to the National Defense Strategy and basing F-35s at Tyndall will only further our service’s air superiority goals for 2030 and beyond.”