The Trump administration has vowed to rebuild Tyndall Air Base, the hurricane-ravaged home of the Air Force’s F-22 Raptor training fleet, though it seems the Air Force faces a long road ahead, and the journey could be fraught with budgetary and political battles.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence visited the post Oct. 25 to announce the White House’s intent to restore the post, where — according to at least one lawmaker — 17 of the post’s 55 F-22s used to train pilots for high-end air superiority missions were damaged when the post was struck by Hurricane Michael earlier this month.
“President [Donald] Trump and I are committed to providing the resources necessary to rebuild Tyndall Air Force Base so that it can continue to be a vital and critical part of our national defense,” Pence said.
That decision is welcome news to the Air Force and Florida lawmakers like Sen. Marco Rubio who have lobbied the Trump administration to make Tyndall great again. The post not only plays a key role in the air defense of the United States; it impacts $2.5 billion in the local economy and 20,000 jobs in the surrounding Bay County, Florida, area, according to Gov. Rick Scott.
Hurricane Michael, the third-most intense Atlantic hurricane to make landfall in the U.S., hit Oct. 10, forcing the evacuation of the post’s 11,000 personnel, destroying facilities and disrupting its operations. The post’s 325th Fighter Wing provides training for all F-22A Raptor pilots, and its 601st Air Operations Center provides aerospace warning and control for North American Aerospace Defense Command defensive counter-air activities.
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