Air Force recommends more F-22 Raptors for JBER

Alaska Air National Guardsman Capt. Wesley Ladd, with the 211th Rescue Squadron, flies Santa, Mrs. Claus and more than 30 National Guard and community volunteers on an HC-130J Combat King II aircraft from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson to St. Michael, Alaska, during Operation Santa Claus, Dec. 5, 2017. Operation Santa Claus is an Alaska National Guard annual community outreach program that provides Christmas gifts, books, school supplies, fresh fruit and sundaes to youngsters in rural communities. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Balinda O’Neal Dresel)

U.S. Air Force officials are recommending that operational F-22 Raptors formerly housed in Florida be house at other bases across the country, including Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, in Anchorage.

The announcement in mid-December comes in the wake of catastrophic damage to Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida from Hurricane Michael, including hangars and fight operations buildings.

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson said in a press release issued on Dec 7, “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.”

Wilson said the Air Force is talking with congressional leaders about this plan and will need their help for the supplemental funds needed to restore the base in Florida.

Before the storm, Tyndall AFB was home to the 325th Fighter Wing, including two F-22 squadrons, one operational and one in training. The base also hosts the 1st Air Force, the 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group, and the Air Force Civil Engineer Center.