Tyndall Air Force Base In Ruins After Michael, Fighter Jets Seen Inside Roofless Hangars
The sprawling installation has been devastated by Michael, with aircraft having been exposed to the elements after hangar roofs blew away.
Yesterday, we reported that Tyndall Air Force Base—the home of F-22 training and the USAF's full-scale aerial target program—took a direct hit from Hurricane Michael, with its eye passing right overhead. Now we are seeing just how bad the damage is and it is downright horrific.
Supposedly, the wind gauge on the base broke after winds hit 135 mph and are now thought to have reached above 150mph or even greater. A reevaluation of meteorological data from many sources could even result in Michael being retroactively reclassified from a category four to a category five hurricane.
Official reports state that the damage done to the critical base is very widespread and severe, with virtually every structure on the installation having some level of roof damage, most of which is extreme. Water, sewer, and power are totally knocked out and will be for the foreseeable future.
Maybe what's most concerning is that it looks as if aircraft packed into the base's large hangars were left open to the elements after their roofs were torn away during Michael's onslaught. And all that debris went positively everywhere, turning pretty much any innocuous object into a missile.
This Twitter video of a helicopter survey of the base shows just how bad the damage is (here is a direct link just in case the video doesn't propagate below):
Note that in the clip we see QF-16s and Mu-2s shoved into one another inside one of the base's large and now roofless hangars. Many F-22s, T-38s, and QF-16s, as well as other aircraft that call the base home, were able to escape to areas unaffected by the storm, but some were also left behind because they were not capable of flight. Major damage to F-22s, which have become something akin to priceless treasures within the USAF due to the fact that only about 187 of them exist, in particular, would be most troubling. Three of the stealth super-fighters have already been damaged during landing incidents in just the last six months. With every F-22 sidelined, more pressure is put on the relatively tiny remaining force.
You can see just how bad the roof damage was even to the base's largest hangars in this photo as well:
One of the most symbolic images of Michael has been that of one of Tyndall's static display F-15s seen flipped entirely over and laying among a sea of debris.
General Michael Holmes, the Commander of Air Combat Command, put out a video statement to Tyndall airmen on social media. He notes that the skeleton crew that was left behind at the base is accounted for and fine, which is great news, but he also makes it clear that the installation is badly damaged and personnel should stay away until further notice. The video is posted below and here is a direct link to it as well.
A statement on Tyndall AFB's Facebook page also reads:
TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE 0600 UPDATE - Base leaders do not yet have an estimate of when Tyndall AFB will reopen. Base leaders are working with Air Force leadership to develop a short-term plan for our Airmen.
Recovery teams have begun initial assessments of the base. They have found widespread catastrophic damage.
Recovery teams conducted an initial assessment of portions of base housing. They found widespread roof damage to nearly every home.
“At this point, Tyndall residents and evacuated personnel should remain at their safe location,” said Col. Brian Laidlaw, 325th Fighter Wing commander. “We are actively developing plans to reunite families and plan to provide safe passage back to base housing.”
The evacuation order remains in effect for Tyndall.
We will report back once we know more about the true extent of the damage to the base and to its highly prized flying residents.
UPDATE: 6am PDT—
Three F-22 airframes have been identified in images of damaged hangars, there are likely many more:
Contact the author: Tyler@thedrive.com
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