U.S. Senator Bill Nelson: Tyndall Air Force Base won't be abandoned

Lester Mason
October 17, 2018

Air Force officials have confirmed that some F-22 Raptor jets in various states of maintenance remained at Tyndall during the storm and sustained damage, though the full extent was still being determined. He added that it is his "judgment as a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee" that Tyndall be rebuilt, because "it is located strategically next to the very critical gulf testing and training range". Still, Nelson says the base won't be closing down.

Nelson said any fears Tyndall will be closed "are unfounded".

"Each of us stand ready to work with the Air Force to rebuild Tyndall AFB and advocate for the resources needed to do so", the lawmakers wrote. Bill Nelson of Florida told The Panama City News Herald on Sunday.

But Nelson said Tyndall won't suffer the same fate. Heather Wilson and to Air Force Gen. David Goldfein, the chief of staff of the Air Force, urging them to focus on restoring the base and stressing the important role it plays in national security.

Officials touring the facility in the aftermath of the storm said they "looked into each of the hangars that housed aircraft which weathered the storm".

Taken in total, the U.S. has suffered grievous blows to its top-of-the-line fighters' readiness, particularly with losses at Tyndall that could set the F-22 community back considerably even if a single jet hasn't been damaged or destroyed.

Initially it was reported that the base's fleet of F-22s had somehow escaped damage, but that does not now seem to be the case, as reports seep through of a devastation worse than originally feared.

Nelson, like the air force, gave no information on how many planes were on the base during the storm or how many were damaged.

Tyndall hangars pre-hurricane. "Ultimately, our airmens lives are more valuable than aircraft".

Photos circulating online show that at least one F-22 left inside a hangar could have been damaged during the hurricane, Sputnik reported.

On Oct. 10, Air Force officials conducted the first aerial assessment of the base and found extensive damage.

The home to the nation's 325th Fighter Wing "took a beating", Col. Brian Laidlaw said in a letter posted October 11 night to the 3,600 men and women stationed at the base located 12 miles (19 kilometers) east of Panama City.

"Maintenance crews were increased over the weekend to fix as many aircraft as possible, to ensure every flyable aircraft could be evacuated", Stefanek said. "Many could not be repaired due to parts availability".

"We honestly do not have any idea what condition our home is in, what our belongings are like", she said Monday, as the family drove to Texas to visit relatives. The second set of aircraft departed Tuesday before noon.

Wilson, the Air Force secretary, said - after touring the base and meeting with 93 airmen who rode out the storm - that Tyndall will reopen when safe, but she couldn't offer a timeline for operations to return. You have always been and will always be my number one priority.

"The runway is operating, I flew in there, and while I was there, a big C-17 cargo came in and is off-loading supplies and equipment".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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