US Air Force proposes Tyndall AFB F-35 rebuild
As Tyndall Air Force Base recovers in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael, the US Air Force has called upon Congress to allocate additional funding for the F-35 Lightning II.
Following a preliminary evaluation, the US Air Force confirmed a rebuilt Tyndall AFB could accommodate up to three F-35 squadrons. Additionally, operational F-22 Raptors could also be accommodated elsewhere, increasing F-35 squadron size from 21 to 24 fighter jets.
Assuming the decision is approved and the funding allocated, F-35s could be based at Tyndall AFB from 2023. Basing already announced in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Wisconsin will be unaffected by the decision.
“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,” said Secretary of the Air Force, Heather Wilson. “We are talking with Congressional leaders about this plan and will need their help with the supplemental funding needed to restore the base.”
On 10 October Hurricane Michael cut a swathe through the Gulf Coast and damaged 95% of the buildings at Tyndall AFB. The base’s hangars and flight operational structures bore the brunt of the storm as it passed directly overhead. More than 2,000 personnel have since returned to the base and the US Air Force intends to continue testing, air operations centre, and civil engineer missions at Tyndall AFB.
Crucially, the decision would allow the US Air Force to rebuild the base in a which accommodates the specific requirements of the F-35.
“We have been given a chance to use this current challenge as an opportunity to further improve our lethality and readiness in support of the National Defense Strategy,” said Chief of Staff of the Air Force, General David Goldfein. “The F-35 is a game-changer with its unprecedented combination of lethality, survivability, and adaptability. Bringing this new mission to Tyndall ensures that the US Air Force is ready to dominate in any conflict.”
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