Air Force wants additional F-22 Raptors at JBER



Hurricane Michael’s impacts continue to be felt as far away as Alaska.

The U.S. Air Force is recommending the F-22 Raptors formerly housed at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, be moved to other bases across the country, including at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage.

Tyndall Air Force Base suffered severe damage in the Oct. 10 Hurricane Michael, which took a direct hit to Pensacola, Fla.

Tyndall’s hangars and flight operations buildings need to be rebuilt, and 95 percent of the base facilities were damaged. The Air Force wants supplemental funding from Congress to rebuild the base. Moving the F-22s to other locations and then making Tyndall a home of F-35 Lightning II fighter jets achieves dual goals.

Chaplain Major Zachary Nash, Deputy Wing Chaplain Joint Base Langley, helps carry out religious items from a church Oct. 22, 2018 on Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida. After Hurricane Michael swept the area multiple major commands have mobilized relief assets in an effort to restore operations after the hurricane caused catastrophic damage to the base. (US Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sean Carnes)

The F-22s would be moved to Alaska, Hawaii, and Virginia. At the same time, the next three squadrons of F-35s, beyond those that have already been assigned, would be stationed at Tyndall, said Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson in a press release.

“Hurricane Michael was a tragedy that caused catastrophic damage to Tyndall AFB and my prayers continue to be with those affected,” said U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan.  “Last week though, the Air Force took an important step in recommending the rebuilding Tyndall AFB for its new future, and, at the same time, making our F-22 fleet more mission-capable. Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson stands ready to support additional F-22s, and Alaskans stand proud in welcoming our new airmen and their families to our great state.”.

Senator Sullivan worked to include language in the Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act to require the Government Accountability Office to review optimal squadron sizes and locations for the limited quantity of F-22s in the Air Force.  On Oct. 10, Sen. Sullivan held his first hearing as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support to receive testimony on Air Force readiness.

Alaska is the hub of air combat power for the Asia-Pacific and the Arctic and will boast over 100 fifth generation, combat-coded fighters with two squadrons of F-35s anticipated to arrive at Eielson AFB beginning in 2020, joining two squadrons of F-22s already based at JBER.

Nowhere else in the world has that level of air superiority. Sen. Sullivan has brought all the service secretaries to Alaska — Army, Navy, Air Force, and the Secretary of Defense James Mattis. They’ve seen the training grounds, the supportive communities, and the different and diverse missions that we operate.