The F-22 Raptor will slowly phase out as the 325th Fighter Wing prepares to transition from a training focus to a combat-ready mission with the addition of F-35A Lighting II squadrons in the coming years.
An F-22 Raptor previously assigned to the 325th Fighter Wing was loaded onto a C-5 Galaxy and taken from Tyndall Air Force Base (AFB), Florida, to the Hill Aerospace Museum located at Hill AFB, Utah, after being retired earlier this year.
As explained by Senior Airman Jacob Dastas, 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs, in the article A Raptor in Hill Country, the F-22 was inspected and de-militarized by Tyndall personnel prior to being sent off with Airmen assigned to the 512th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron out of Dover AFB, Delaware, to become part of the Hill museum’s growing fighter aircraft static collection.
“We were all excited when we were approached with the opportunity a few months ago to send this F-22 to the museum at Hill,” said Staff Sgt. Taylor Croft, 325th Logistics Readiness Squadron air terminal function supervisor. “The 325th LRS played a key role from assisting in making sure everything was good to go; from paperwork to the pallets being built by multiple shops, to inspecting, planning, and loading.”
While members from the installation were sad to see one of Tyndall’s fighter aircraft go, others from the around the Air Force are happy to see old friends.
“This exact F-22 was the first jet I got to work on when I was in tech school,” said Staff Sgt. Alexander Poorman, 309th Aircraft Maintenance Group DEPOT aircraft craftsman. “It’s kind of nostalgic to get to see it again, and I’m very happy to see that it’s going to get the TLC it needs when it gets to Hill.”
As Tyndall AFB continues to make strides toward becoming the Installation of the Future, the F-22 Raptor will slowly phase out as the Checkertails prepare to transition from a training focus to a combat-ready mission with the addition of F-35A Lighting II squadrons in the coming years. Though this particular Raptor may not be deploying to areas of operations or flying sorties, its years of being admired by fans of fighter jets are far from over.
The new owners of this F-22, the Hill Aerospace Museum, are building an 80,000 square foot gallery that will hold the aircraft and display it for all the visitors of the museum.
“(Getting the F-22) was on our wish list, so when it became available, we put in a package for it,” said Aaron Clark, Hill Aerospace Museum director. “Our goal is to communicate to the public the importance the F-22 plays to the Air Force’s mission and be able to showcase it to our over 300,000 annual visitors from across the globe.”
As already reported a March 2021 Record of Decision was issued by the US Air Force (USAF) making Tyndall AFB the official location to host three new squadrons of the F-35A Lightning II.
USAF officials selected Tyndall AFB based on numerous attributes, including infrastructure capability, quality of life for Airmen, and airspace. The selection process included a thorough environmental impact analysis, in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act.
The decision followed a 2018 proposal by the Air Force to base F-35s at Tyndall AFB after extensive damage from Hurricane Michael prompted the base’s redesign to become the Department of Defense’s first Installation of the Future. This has allowed the Air Force to rebuild the base to accommodate the unique needs of the F-35A.
The F-22 Raptor fighter jets that were housed at Tyndall AFB before the hurricane had been moved to other bases.
Before the storm, Tyndall AFB was home of two F-22 squadrons. One was operational and one was training. The base also hosts the 1st Air Force, the 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group, and the Air Force Civil Engineer Center.
The F-22s had been reassigned to units in Alaska, Hawaii and Virginia.
Photo credit: Senior Airman Jacob Dastas / U.S. Air Force