United States Air Force Mighty F-22 Raptor Fleet Is In Serious Trouble. Here’s Why the Air Force’s Mighty F-22 Raptor Fleet Is In Serious Trouble.
In an update the 325th Fighter Wing shared on Facebook in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael’s landfall, leadership at the Florida base detailed a “complete loss” of base facilities. Several critical installations sustained “catastrophic” damage; other facilities, like the Tyndall marina and docks, are simply gone.
But the most devastating impact of Michael may lie far beyond the bases’ devastated flight line and reverberate across the U.S. military’s air superiority posture at a time when the service branches are focused on their expanding their capabilities.
Tyndall is home to 55 F-22 Raptor fifth-generation fighter jets, at least 33 of which were dispatched to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio ahead of Michael’s landfall, the New York Times reported on Oct. 11, suggesting that some 22 fighters may have been deliberately left behind.
Related Article: More Than 17 F-22s May Have Been Damaged by Hurricane Michael
According to reporting from Foreign Policy, “as many as” 17 Raptors “may be damaged or destroyed.” Indeed, satellite photos revealed the wreckage of several of the pricey stealth fighters among the debris.
Things may not be as bad as initially feared. “We also looked into each of the hangars that housed aircraft which weathered the storm for maintenance or safety reasons,” Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek told Task & Purpose on Monday.
“Visually, they were all intact and looked much better than expected considering the surrounding damage to some structures.”
“Our maintenance professionals will do a detailed assessment of the F-22 Raptors and other aircraft before we can say with certainty that damaged aircraft can be repaired and sent back into the skies,” she added. “However, damage was less than we feared and preliminary indications are promising.
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