Six F-22 Raptors, which were evacuated days before Hurricane Michael ravaged Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, returned to the state on Tuesday.
Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said in a tweet Wednesday that the Raptors arrived at nearby Eglin Air Force Base to begin F-22 schoolhouse operations. Wilson included a short video of the advanced fighter jets taxiing along the runway at Eglin.
Wilson earlier this month outlined a plan to return some airmen and duties to Tyndall, and temporarily relocate others. The 43rd and 2nd Fighter squadrons' F-22 fighter training units are temporarily moving to Eglin, as is the 372nd Training Squadron, Detachment 4.
But other F-22s and airmen, with the 95th Fighter Squadron, are not coming back to Florida for now — and it’s unclear when, or if, that might change.
Tyndall commander Col. Brian Laidlaw, head of the 325th Fighter Wing, also said in a Monday letter to airmen that base residents must take their property out of lots and storage areas, within 45 days so Tyndall can move forward with its recovery plan.
Personal property does not have to be moved out of base housing, Laidlaw said.
“We know that the hurricane has moved and destroyed many items, and we will do our best to ensure you are able to find and retrieve any personal property,” Laidlaw said. “We are asking that those who have personal property on base (not to include personal property located in base housing) to retrieve it within the next 45 days.”
Airmen who need to retrieve their property should contact the Tyndall Visitor Control Center to make sure they can get on base, Laidlaw said.
Tyndall also announced in a Nov. 14 release that Boeing delivered a QF-16 unmanned aerial target aircraft to the 82nd Aerial Target Squadron at Tyndall.
“The arrival of this QF-16 brings us one step closer to resuming operations,” Col. Steven Boatright, commander of the 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group, said in the release. “It is vital to the warfighter that we resume operations when it is deemed safe to do so.”
Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.