Pence: Tyndall F-22 Training, Operations Center Will Be Back by Start of 2019

Vice President Mike Pence greets airmen at Tyndall AFB, Fla., during an Oct. 25 visit to the base. Twitter photo via Vice President Mike Pence.

The F-22 schoolhouse and 601st Air Operations Center will be back up and running by the beginning of next year as US leaders pledge to rebuild Tyndall AFB, Fla., following Hurricane Michael, Vice President Mike Pence announced during a base visit Thursday.

Pence, alongside Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, and other Air Force officials, said Thursday the government is going to “make sure all of the resources, all of the support is made available from the government.” The Trump administration has pledged to fully rebuild Tyndall, and that work will start first with F-22 training and the air operations center.

All of Tyndall’s evacuated F-22s, which currently are operating out of JB Langley-Eustis, Va., will fly out of nearby Eglin AFB, Fla., for training when the school house stands back up, and simulators on Tyndall will be operational soon, Pence announced. Also, “in short order,” the 601st AOC will return to operations. Before the storm, 1st Air Force/Air Forces Northern moved operations out of the Tyndall operations center to other locations, though the Air Force has not said where.

Pence said Thursday the administration is working with Capitol Hill to ensure funding and resources will be available to rebuild the base, which is a “vital military installation in our national defense.”

The base this week reopened its gates to airmen and their families so they can assess damage to their residences, and to retrieve valuables. Pence said Thursday he was delivering a message from Trump to congratulate the 325th Fighter Wing on how it responded to the storm.

The status of damaged F-22s has not yet been detailed by the Air Force. Before the storm, 17 jets were unable to leave because of maintenance issues and a yet undisclosed number of them have been damaged. The Air Force has built temporary structures and pulled the aircraft out from destroyed hangars to conduct damage assessments.