The entire Virginia congressional delegation and both senators are vying for the Air Force to base its F-22 squadrons at Air Combat Command’s headquarters in Hampton Roads.
The delegation issued a Feb. 14 letter to Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson pushing for the F-22 flight and maintenance formal training units (FTUs) that are being relocated from Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, to move to Joint-Base Langley-Eustis in southern Virginia. The co-signers include Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) member Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), and all 11 of the state’s representatives.
The letter, released Friday by Warner’s office, notes that Langley currently hosts two F-22 squadrons but was built for three, leaving some ramp, hangar, and operations support facilities underutilized. “Moving the F-22 FTU to Langley would advance one of the recommendations put forward by the Government Accountability Office regarding F-22 organization: the need for ‘consolidating the fleet into larger squadrons and/or wings in order to improve aircraft availability,’” the letter said.
The Air Force moved its F-22 units formerly stationed at Tyndall to Eglin AFB, Florida, after the former base suffered serious damage from Hurricane Michael in October 2018, but some aircraft were also flown to Langley after the storm (Defense Daily, Oct. 22, 2018). Wilson has not made a formal decision on the units’ permanent station.
Joint-Base Eustis Langley is home to the 1st Fighter Wing, which includes the 27th and 94th Fighter Squadrons, and 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.
The lawmakers’ letter noted the Hampton Roads area’s ability to “provide strong recruiting and retention” and that the Virginia Air National Guard “stands uniquely positions to support the FTU, with experienced instructors and maintainers well versed on the platform.”