Tyndall Air Force Base, Home Of F-22 Training, Just Took A Bullseye Hit From Hurricane Michael
Michael's eye passed directly over the coastal installation and could have caused significant damage to the critically important air base.
The category four Hurricane Michael, the likes of which the likes of which the Florida panhandle has not seen in modern times, made landfall with its eye passing directly over Tyndall Air Force Base. The installation, which sits on the coast near Panama City, is not only the home of F-22 Raptor pilot training, but it also supports many other facets of training and weapons development, including acting as the launch, recovery, and control site for the Air Force's Full-Scale Aerial Target program, which is now based around the QF-16. Suffice it to say, there is a lot of highly important, sensitive and expensive gear located there, as well as capabilities that are critical to the USAF's long-term readiness.
Even for structures built to withstand hurricane force winds, taking a direct hit from a storm that is packing sustained wind speeds of 150mph is a whole different story. There is also storm surge and torrential rain to contend with. Tyndall AFB sits roughly a dozen feet above sea level, and there are lower areas as well.
Panama City is taking an incredible wallop from this storm, with video of roofs being ripped off buildings and structures being demolished playing on repeat on national news stations. Tyndall may be right in the storm's eye, but many other military installations, both big and small, also call the affected area where the storm is charging inland home, most notably Eglin AFB and Hurlburt Field.
All of these bases have very well planned storm evacuation plans, which include flying any aircraft that can take to the air to safer locales far from the storm's projected path. In Tyndall Air Force Base's case, its F-22, T-38, and QF-16 jets went to Wright Patterson AFB in Ohio. Those that can't fly are stored in the sturdiest hangars available, which can make for quite a crowded affair.
Equipment and infrastructure are replaceable, people aren't, and you can't just leave a base full of high-explosives, classified information, and sensitive hardware totally empty. A skeleton crew, including a handful of security forces, stays behind during an evacuation. Let's hope they all fared well as Michael's eye passed directly overhead.
We will continue to update this post as more information on the state of Tyndall AFB and other bases in the surrounding area comes available.
Contact the author: Tyler@thedrive.com