U.S. Air Force officials have recommended permanently moving a portion of the F-22 fighter jets from the hurricane-ravaged Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, said a statement this week from the office of U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska.
That could boost the number of F-22 Raptors at JBER by at least six, from two squadrons of 21 fighter jets to two squadrons of 24. Additional military personnel would also come with the planes.
Stationing the F-22s at JBER isn’t yet a done deal, said Ann Stefanek, U.S. Air Force spokeswoman. Reaching a final decision will involve conversations between Air Force leadership and Congress, she said.
The F-22s are expected to arrive at JBER in the next couple weeks, Stefanek said. It’s unclear when a decision will be made about whether their stay is temporary or permanent.
Few additional details were available Thursday.
Stefanek said she didn’t have information about how many military personnel would move to Anchorage with the fighter jets. Erin Eaton, a JBER spokeswoman, said she had no details to release Thursday about how many F-22s would come to JBER, how many airmen would come with them and when they would arrive.
Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle on Oct. 10. It damaged 95 percent of the buildings at Tyndall Air Force Base, said Sullivan’s statement.
The U.S. Air Force is recommending that Congress use supplemental funding to rebuild Tyndall Air Force Base to prepare for three squadrons of F-35s, said a statement from Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson. The operational F-22s from Tyndall will move to Alaska, Hawaii and Virginia.
Sullivan said in his statement that Hurricane Michael was “a tragedy that caused catastrophic damage" to Tyndall Air Force Base, and his prayers continued to be with those affected.
“Last week though, the Air Force took an important step in recommending the rebuilding (of) Tyndall AFB for its new future, and, at the same time, making our F-22 fleet more mission-capable," Sullivan said. “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."