17 F-22 Raptor fighters from the Tyndall American Air Force in Florida could have been destroyed or significantly damaged when Hurricane Michael hit the unit last week. The final number of damaged machines is not yet known, but the US air force estimates that it can be up to 17 aircraft, which for various reasons failed to evacuate from the base in Florida before it was hit by a hurricane wind at a speed of 210 km / h. Certainly buildings and hangars in which planes were located have been destroyed, revealing costly constructions. The Tyndall is still ongoing, however, the damage would be evaluated after the hurricane passes over.
The threatened American equipment includes 183 F-22 machines, which means that about 10 percent F-22 fighters out of the total fleet could be damaged. Depending on the degree of damage, it is estimated that Americans will have to pay up to USD 2 billion for repairs. After returning to the base, the teams sent to assess the damage, described the loss as “disastrously large”. On Sunday these teams also appeared at the base among other USAF mandarins. According to latest reports by Lara Selligman from Foreign Policy, the situation is not as bad as it was expected in the beginning. It is even possible that all F-22 may have survived the hurricane, and suffered no major damage.
It is known that some buildings directly related to aviation activities are completely destroyed or damaged to a very serious extent. Virtually all other buildings – both those related to the operation of the base and the residential ones – are destroyed or damaged to a significant degree. The damage assessments were made public a few days ago, after many flights over the base area.
Every day, 55 F-22s were stationed are the Tyndall base, which were used by two combat squadrons (43rd and 95th) operating within the 325th USAF Combat Wing. As reported by the New York Times, the military managed to evacuate at least 33 fighters, which were temporarily taken to the Wright-Patterson Air Force base in Ohio. This means that almost all aircrafts that remained in the base could be destroyed or damaged. USAF did not specify exactly why some of the machines remained in Tyndall, but they were most likely undergoing repairs or technical inspections, or waiting for spare parts, and it might have been impossible to transfer them from Florida in the face of hurricane. Tyndall’s base was in the area subjected to the most violent blows of the windstorm.
#HurricaneMichael barreled over the Florida Panhandle causing extensive damage to Tyndall Air Force Base, #Florida , Oct. 10. This footage, captured the next day, shows the damage down US Highway 98, which cuts through the center of the base. #TyndallAFB pic.twitter.com/VmF8gMS6A7
– US Dept of Defense (@DeptofDefense) October 12, 2018
Let us remind you that the F-22 is the aircraft with the lowest degree of readiness for flight among all American aviation machines. Its availability is only 49%. This means that at any time only less than half of the fleet of these aircrafts is ready for flight. This is due to the time-consuming technical service and delicacy of the airframe itself.