The Air Force just won’t let go of its Panama City locale.

Service officials announced Thursday that they plan to spend $3 billion over the next five years to rebuild Tyndall Air Force Base, which was heavily damaged by Hurricane Michael on Oct. 10.

During an “industry day” event, the Air Force representatives told more than 450 industry professionals and community leaders that they intend to rebuild the base as an “installation of the future.”

The event was hosted at Florida State University-Panama City, a 30-minute drive from Tyndall. The meeting highlighted for local construction companies how bad the damage was to Tyndall after the hurricane, while reassuring the community that the Air Force intends to operate the base for decades to come.

“Today is about gaining a shared understanding of the challenges, the opportunities and the work ahead of us,” John Henderson, the Air Force’s assistant secretary for installations, environment and energy, said at the event. “This is also an extremely important opportunity to listen to one another, learn about each other’s ideas, innovations, concerns, and so on. We can’t do this without your help.”

Col. Brian Laidlaw, commander of the 325th Fighter Wing at Tyndall AFB, answers a question from an attendee during the industry day Jan. 31. (2nd Lt. Michael Dunham/Air Force)
Col. Brian Laidlaw, commander of the 325th Fighter Wing at Tyndall AFB, answers a question from an attendee during the industry day Jan. 31. (2nd Lt. Michael Dunham/Air Force)

Every single one of Tyndall’s nearly 1,200 facilities will need some level of repair, service officials said in a news release.

But the rebuild plan is still calling for some changes, including multi-use, smart facilities able to withstand the Florida Panhandle’s severe weather, an expanded flight line to support F-35 operations by 2023, and walkable campus areas that provide consolidated one-stop-shop facilities for airmen and their dependents.

There will be another industry day this May to hash out ideas the Air Force will be soliciting from local industry over the next month-and-a-half.

A call for white papers has been put out, asking for a focus on facility and infrastructure design and construction, community partnership opportunities, and program management, according to the Air Force.

What was originally a catastrophic blow to the service, may actually turn into a unique opportunity, according to Air Force Civil Engineer Center subject matter expert Amy Vandeveer.

A crowd of more than 450 listens to the presentations during Tyndall Industry Day Jan. 31. (2nd Lt. Michael Dunham/Air Force)
A crowd of more than 450 listens to the presentations during Tyndall Industry Day Jan. 31. (2nd Lt. Michael Dunham/Air Force)

“For several years, the Air Force has talked about what an installation of the future looks like from several perspectives: sustainable, smart, healthy and resilient,” Vandeveer said at the event. “Tyndall provides a unique opportunity to make some bold moves and implement multiple strategies aligned with what we envision such an installation will look like.”

Congressman Neal Dunn, who represents Panama City, also attended the event.

“I can’t say enough good about you, your men and women, the bravery, persistence and dedication they’ve shown in cleaning up the base and helping rebuild already,” Dunn said. “Kudos to your team and their outstanding effort.”