Panama City, FL – Hurricane Michael caused more damage to Tyndall Air Force base than any global military could dream of – with several pricey F-22 stealth fighters left damaged or destroyed.
CMSgt Frank Batten, Air Combat Command Chief, visited the destroyed base on Saturday and declared: “The impact of Hurricane Michael has devastated the base and local area.”
Reports said there’s not a single building left untouched. Michael was historic in its intensity and is the worst hurricane to hit the panhandle since record-keeping began.
The Tyndall Air Force Base was the first to be hit by 155 mph winds as Michael made landfall. The winds lifted trains off its tracks in Panama City located north-east of the base. 155 mph winds toppled a display aircraft and ripped open hangar roofs and collapsed walls.
Out of 55 F-22 Raptors based there, some 33 were flown away to another air base but between 10 to 20 of the F-22 were left inside hangers that suffered extensive damage when the category 4 storm took aim for the base, the nearby Panama City and Mexico Beach where people are lining up for food and water amidst the ruins left behind. (Story continues below.)
If the estimates of the number of the ultra-modern stealth aircraft damaged remains true, the damage to those planes alone would exceed several billion dollars, not counting the damage to the entire air force base that is not habitable at this time. It was home to 3,500 personnel and is the main training facility for F-22 fliers.
“The Air Force said Friday that an unspecified number of aircraft left inside hangars at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida were likely damaged when Hurricane Michael devastated the base, with imagery on social media showing an unknown number of F-22 Raptors are among those impacted,” reported the Air Force Times.
“Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said in an email that some aircraft were left in Tyndall’s hangars due to maintenance or safety reasons, and all of those hangars were damaged when the Category 4 storm pounded the Gulf Coast Wednesday.
“We anticipate the aircraft parked inside may be damaged as well, but we won’t know the extent until our crews can safely enter those hangars and make an assessment,” said Stefanek. (Story continues below.)
Air Force leaders toured the base on Saturday to study the extensive damage to housing units, schools, air fields and hangars where a number of aircraft were left to ride out the storm.
According to the Tyndall Air Force website, some of the damage listed was as follows:
- All base houses sustained significant roof and siding damage. Some houses sustained more significant structural failures.
- Some Tyndall dorms appear to have fared well; others sustained severe damage.
- The flight line is devastated. Every building has severe damage. Many buildings are a complete loss.
- The hurricane completely destroyed the Tyndall marina. The structures and docks are gone.
- The drone runway, AFCEC labs, and Silver Flag areas all sustained catastrophic damage. Tyndall Elementary School sustained severe damage.
- The BX and commissary sustained severe damage, and the two shoppettes sustained catastrophic damage.
- Help is on the way. Initial relief and support requested by the ride out team, is due to arrive as early as this evening. Air Force and government officials have responded quickly to our requests.
“The base remains closed. Trees and power lines block nearly every road. At this time, power and basic utilities remain out,” said a base commander. Personnel ordered to evacuate have been told to stay away.
Col. Brian S. Laidlaw, Commander 325th Fighter Wing, said earlier: “Team Tyndall, our base took a beating, and i know you have a lot of questions. I will share with you information as fast as i can transmit it with our limited communication capabilities.”
“By now you already know that Tyndall Air Force Base requires extensive cleanup and repairs. I will not recall you and your families until we can guarantee your safety. At this time i can’t tell you how long that will take, but i’m on it. I know this is important to you.”