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As the US Air Force (USAF) continues to evolve by modernizing its capabilities and maintaining air superiority in an ever-changing global security landscape, Tyndall Air Force Base (AFB), Florida, has officially started the transition from an air dominance training mission towards becoming a fully combat capable F-35A Lightning II fighter wing.
As reported by Senior Airman Tiffany Del Oso, 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs, in the article Long awaited F-35 aircraft touch down at Tyndall, this transition was cemented with the touchdown of the first three F-35s Aug. 1, 2023.
“The arrival of the F-35 marks a new chapter for Tyndall,” said Col. George Watkins, 325th Fighter Wing commander. “It represents the introduction of the most advanced and technologically sophisticated fighter aircraft into the 325th Fighter Wing’s operational fleet.”
Transitioning to a combat-oriented mission set is a historical milestone as the F-35’s arrival is a catalyst for advancing airpower capabilities, ensuring air superiority and showcasing the resilience and adaptability of both the ‘Installation of the Future’ and the Air Force.
The F-35 provides next-generation stealth, enhanced situational awareness and reduced vulnerability for the US and allied nations. The jet’s capabilities place the 325th Fighter Wing at the forefront of the Air Force’s priority to lead the defense community in maintaining a technologically superior warfighting force of the future.
“Standing up three operational F-35 fighter squadrons at Tyndall increases Air Force lethality and combat readiness,” stated Watkins. “It’s a move that aligns with National Defense Strategy objectives to deter and combat aggression for the United States’ adversaries.”
Tyndall’s gaining of the F-35 elevates global deterrence to another level. The 325th FW’s prime location labels it as a critical asset due to the direct access to the Eastern Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf Range Complex. Once the fighter squadrons are fully operational, Tyndall aircraft will participate in large-scale exercises aimed at improving interoperability between 4th and 5th-gen airframes as well as Joint Force operations. The change in the Tyndall mission also begins the process of integrating into the Air Force Force Generation model, AFFORGEN, with the goal of becoming a lead wing capable of worldwide deployment operations and homeland defense.
Joining the growing international F-35 communities, Tyndall’s acceptance of the aircraft encourages strong collaboration between allied partners across global theaters while propelling the 325th Fighter Wing into an offensive state to gain a competitive edge over adversaries.
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: U.S. Air Force via Tyndall Air Force Base Facebook Page
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