January 7, 2014 (by SSgt. Rachelle Blake) - Tyndall Air Force Base received the first five of 24 F-22 Raptors scheduled to transfer from Holloman Air Force Base, on January 6 as part of the new combat mission.
Five F-22 Raptors fly in formation over Tyndall AFB during an event held in their honor on January 7th, 2014. These jets mark the beginning of a new mission at Tyndall and are the first five of 24 marked to call Tyndall their new home. [USAF photo by A1C. Dustin Mullen]
The aircraft are now a part of the 95th Fighter Squadron, which re-activated in October 2013.
"We have been talking about the arrival of this mission for a few years," said Lt. Col. Erick Gilbert, 95th FS
commander. "Unfortunately, we had a delay of a year, but today we were able to successfully bring in the first wave of aircraft. The next six will arrive in February, with six more in March and the final wave in April."
The squadron's mission is to project unrivaled combat power in support of national military objectives and combatant commander requirements through strategic application of 5th generation air dominance fighter aircraft and personnel.
"The 95th Fighter Squadron showing up represents a new era in the capability at Tyndall," said Col. David Graff, 325th Fighter Wing commander. "No combat aviation unit has ever deployed out of Tyndall Air Force Base. Now, we will have the largest collection of F-22s in the world and will stand ready to project air power and defend our nation's freedom."
Base officials expressed the importance of this as the next step towards the new combat mission, responsible for deploying a large number of Airmen and aircraft at any given time.
The new mission adds to Tyndall's current role as the home of F-22 pilot training. In total, more than 50 of the world's most advanced aircraft will call Tyndall home, making it the largest single-base contingent of F-22s in existence. More than 1,100 positions are associated with the new mission.
"We are bringing in close to 1,100 uniformed members to Tyndall plus their families, which will bring us back to a lively state like we had a few years ago," Gilbert said.
The transfer of the planes and people does not come without its challenges, but base leadership is confident the 95th FS will come out on top, thanks to the help from the Airmen and civilians at Tyndall and the local community.
"Bay County has not let us down in the 72 years we have been here and I know our partnership will continue to grow and prosper ... today is a great day," said Graff. "The sound of freedom just got a little louder over the world's most beautiful beaches."