The damage caused to F-22 Raptors that rode out Hurricane Michael at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, will not prevent 80 percent of all Raptors from being flyable by fiscal 2019, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said on Friday.
“We expect to meet that goal,” Wilson told reporters. “Most of the F-22s have already flown out of Tyndall and the last ones will fly out by Nov. 6.”
Defense Secretary James Mattis has ordered that 80 percent of F-22s and other fighter aircraft fleets be mission capable by Oct. 1, 2019.
Seventeen F-22s were at Tyndall when Hurricane Michael destroyed the base on Oct. 10, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., revealed in an Oct. 22 letter to Wilson.
“The damage was far less than feared and we won’t go into details,” Wilson said on Friday, noting that the Raptors were able to fly shortly after the storm.
The Air Force does not yet know how much the damage to Tyndall will cost to repair, she said. It will take “several years” to fully restore the base.
For the meantime, the F-22s and personnel with the 95th Fighter Squadron will move to Langley Air Force Base, Virginia; Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska; and Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Wilson said.
The Air Force has not yet decided whether the squadron will return to Tyndall.
F-22s from training units will also move from Tyndall to Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, an Air Force news release says. The Non-Commissioned Officer Academy will be dispersed among four bases: McGhee-Tyson Air National Guard Bas, Tennessee; Maxwell Air Force Base-Gunter Annex, Alabama; Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi; and Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas.
“We believe that all but about 500 military members will be returning to the Panhandle within the next one to three months – either at Eglin or at Tyndall,” Wilson said. “There are only two missions that can’t be supported at Tyndall at this time.”