Handful of new jet-fighters could come to JBER after Florida storm

Former 11th Air Force Lieutenant General Kenneth Wilsbach prepares to depart in an F-22 for a training mission. (Photo: Zachariah Hughes, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage)

Alaska may soon be getting a few more advanced fighter jets as the Air Force seeks to reorganize its stock of F-22s after a recent tropical storm.

In a press release last week, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said that 95 percent of the buildings at Florida’s Tyndall Air Force Base were damaged by Hurricane Michael this fall. That includes hangars and buildings that support squadrons of F-22 Raptors. As Tyndall gets ready to host a large complement of next-generation F-35 fighters, the Air Force is recommending its operational stock of Raptors be sent to installations in three other states, including Alaska’s Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

The move could mean bumping up the size of JBER’s two Raptor squadrons from 21 to 24 planes each. That would bring along additional personnel and federal defense dollars.

It is not a done deal. The Air Force is framing the raptor re-distribution as part of a request to Congress for supplemental funds to repair storm-damage at Tyndall in order to be ready for hosting three squadrons of F-35s by the beginning of 2023.

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Zachariah Hughes reports on city & state politics, arts & culture, drugs, and military affairs in Anchorage and South Central Alaska. @ZachHughesAK About Zachariah

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