Tropical storm Alberto has the panhandle of Florida in its sights as it is forecasted to make landfall on Memorial Day. That region is packed with American airpower, with NAS Pensacola, Eglin AFB, Tyndall AFB, and Hurlburt Field packed into a 100-mile arch. But being that it's the Gulf Coast, all of those bases have intricate, multi-tier contingency plans for quickly readying for the worst weather disasters mother nature has to offer. This time around, many of the highly prized F-22 Raptors belonging to 325th Fighter Wing at Tyndall AFB are taking cover in a massive hangar on the installation.
Stuffed inside that single hangar are 15 F-22s—roughly eight percent of the entire F-22 fleet—valued between about $3B and $5B depending on who you ask. Along with the F-22s are five gloss-black T-38A Talon trainers belonging to the 2nd Fighter Training Squadron.
These aircraft provide adversary support for Raptor pilots, including trainees—the wing includes the 43rd Fighter Squadron, which is the USAF's sole F-22 training unit. The Raptor has an insatiable appetite for aerial targets as it is so efficient at doling out air-to-air death. So the wing has T-38s on hand to economically feed F-22 pilots with the high volumes of adversaries needed to challenge their skills. The 325th Fighter Wing also includes the 95th Fighter Squadron, which is a combat-coded unit, as well.
The base posted the following alert yesterday in preparation for the storm:
Due to updated forecasts for Subtropical Storm Alberto, Tyndall Air Force Base officials have declared HURCON 2. HURCON 2 means that damaging winds are a potential threat to Tyndall AFB in the next 24 hours. There will be no evacuation order for this subtropical storm.
Tyndall AFB remains inside the National Hurricane Center's storm track cone for Subtropical Storm Alberto. Tyndall AFB expects heavy rainfall, up to 7-9 inches. The forecast calls for tropical storm force winds (34 knots) to start at Tyndall AFB around 8:30 p.m. Sunday evening with peak winds possible up to 50 knots (gusting up to 60 knots) starting around 2 a.m. Monday morning. Forecasters expect the peak winds to last approximately 3-4 hours at Tyndall AFB depending on the exact storm track.
Tyndall members should take the following precautions:
- Monitor local news for weather updates; check the Tyndall website and Facebook page.
- Brief family members on the situation.
- Clear yard of loose materials that could possibly turn into projectiles.
During more severe storms, any aircraft that can fly away to safer locales usually do. This can include sending the vast majority of an air base's inventory into the air in a very short period of time and executing on all the logistics that are required to support them and their aircrews at their temporary home. In 2016, Hurricane Matthew and Hurricane Hermine sent Raptors of Langley AFB's 1st Fighter Wing scurrying, resulting in some awesome images.
Tyndall AFB is home to over three times the number of F-22s seen pictured stuffed inside that hangar, so we don't know if the others were placed in other hangars on base or if they flew out to bases outside of the storm's path. We also don't know if all the QF-16s based there made it inside or if some were flown out as well.
Considering how active and destructing last year's hurricane season was, this is very unlikely to be the last time we see an air base pull out their contingency plans to protect their planes in 2018.
Contact the author: Tyler@thedrive.com