Gen. Mark Kelly, commander, Air Combat Command, signed a memorandum, on Jan. 20, 2023 directing the stand-up of the F-22 Raptor Formal Training Unit (FTU) at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, a USAF news release says.
In June 2021, the US Air Force signed a Record of Decision approving JBLE as the future home of the F-22 FTU after Hurricane Michael devastated Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, in 2018. Following the hurricane, Tyndall-assigned F-22s were temporarily relocated to Eglin AFB, Florida, where they continued to serve for the flying training portion of the FTU.
In preparation for their new mission, the 1st Fighter Wing at JBLE redesignated the 71st Fighter Training Squadron as the 71st Fighter Squadron in November 2022, and in January 2023, activated the 71st Fighter Generation Squadron. These two units will host the FTU. The phased transfer of F-22s assigned to the 325th Fighter Wing at Tyndall AFB will begin in March 2023 as F-22s depart Eglin AFB for their new home at JBLE.
As Tyndall AFB prepares for the arrival of the F-35A Lightning II mission, it will continue to provide the academic and simulator portions of the F-22 FTU mission until a new ground training facility is completed at JBLE. This is expected to occur no earlier than summer 2026.
The move of the F-22 FTU to Langley is intended to free up space at Eglin Air Force Base for an additional F-35 training unit. The move of the F-22 FTU would bring 31 Raptor fighter jets at Langley as well as 16 T-38 training aircraft of the 2nd Fighter Training Squadron which are tasked to fly as hostile aircraft.
The Air Force has said the number of F-22 flights from Langley’s airfield would rise from 22,677 a year now to 49,119 when the training unit is up and fully operational. T-38 flights would increase from 16,000 a year to 47,866.
Langley is already home to the 1st Fighter Wing, which has two squadrons of F-22s and is responsible for a third of the F-22s in the Air Force.
Photo credit: Tech. Sgt. Betty R. Chevalier / U.S. Air Force
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