HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — On Friday, Gov. Ralph Northam announced that the United States Air Force is permanently relocating the F-22 Raptor formal training unit (FTU) to Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Hampton.
“We are thrilled to welcome the F-22 Raptor formal training unit to our Commonwealth,” said Governor Northam. “Home to a significant number of military installations with critical national security missions and operations, there is no place that welcomes service members more warmly than the Hampton Roads region. Langley-Eustis is the right choice, with the ideal environment to achieve the maintenance and supply efficiencies that are critical to successful F-22 squadron training. This move is good for the Air Force and the Langley-Eustis community, and demonstrates that Virginia is best suited to host this mission and the next generation of air dominance fighter aircraft.”
Langley was first identified as a candidate for the unit in 2019, following a bipartisan request by Northam, Virginia’s Congressional delegation and members of the General Assembly.
“After years of advocating alongside the Virginia congressional delegation, we’re pleased that the U.S. Air Force has confirmed what we already knew: Hampton Roads is the ideal location to permanently house the F-22 training squadron,” said United States Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine. “We look forward to working with the U.S. Air Force and the Virginia Air National Guard to make sure the relocation process is a smooth one for the service members and their families that will now make the Commonwealth their new home.”
The move will bring more than 31 F-22 and 16 other training aircraft to Langley. An estimated 700 military, civilian and contractor personnel will also be moving to Hampton Roads. They are expected to bring approximately 1,600 dependents.
“I am proud to welcome the F-22 Flight and Maintenance Formal Training Unit to Joint Base Langley-Eustis and Hampton Roads,” said Congresswoman Elaine Luria. “This decision from the Air Force and the Department of Defense sends a strong message about our community’s commitment to active duty personnel, our veterans, and their families.”
The F-22 FTU was originally located at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida but displaced due to Hurricane Michael.
10 On Your Side spoke to Hampton Mayor Donnie Tuck who said the decision is a big win for the city.
“One of the things we tried to stress to them is that our region is very welcoming to the military and that we have the capability to accept more missions,” Tuck said.
Officials are optimistic the economic impact will take Hampton Roads to new heights.
“Again, we’re talking about bringing another 2,400 individuals and so they will need some places to stay, to eat,” Tuck said. “Not all of them will be in Hampton but it’s important for the region.”
We’re told more studies about noise and traffic near the base are being done. Tuck said the city is working with the Air Force to reduce congestion at the main gate.
The mayor also has high hopes those guarding the skies will land here for good.
“We’re trying to make improvements in our cities so the individuals who come to Langley will want to stay,” Tuck said.
The training unit’s arrival is anticipated sometime in early 2022.