HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia’s congressional delegation is pushing for the relocation of an F-22 squadron to Hampton Roads following the destruction of an Air Force base in Florida.
On Friday, all of the Commonwealth’s representatives in Congress sent a letter to U.S. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson urging her to relocate the F-22 Flight and Maintenance Formal Training Units to Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Hampton.
The squadron was mostly located at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, however it was forced to temporarily relocate 80 miles west to Eglin Air Force Base following Hurricane Michael in October 2018, according to a release from Senator Mark Warner’s office.
“While Joint Base Langley-Eustis currently has two F-22 squadrons, as well as supporting maintenance units, it was built for the beddown of three squadrons, thereby underutilizing the airspace and Air Force investment in ramp, hangar, and operations support facilities,” the lawmakers letter said. “The East Coast Mid-Atlantic training ranges provide an excellent opportunity to train with other 4th and 5th generation aircraft in the region.”
The letter went on to detail how the move would support he recommendations made by the Government Accountability Office to consolidate the F-22 fleet into larger squadrons and/or wings in order to improve aircraft availability.
“Now is the opportune time to try to bring that squadron here,” said Mayor Donnie Tuck of Hampton. “One of the things we have tried to press upon the Secretary of the Air Force is that our schools are ready, and the community. We have done a lot of positive things to support the mission at Langley. “
While no timetable has been established for when the secretary will make her decision, Craig Quigley with the Hampton Roads Military and Federal Facilities Alliance said there are only two other options.
“There is one base in Alaska and another in Hawaii that could accomodate this squadron,” Quigley said. “However with the weather, I guarantee there will be more training days available here in Hampton Roads.”