The US Air Force (USAF) has decided to permanently bed down the F-22 Raptor fighter aircraft’s Formal Training Unit (FTU) at Joint Base Langley-Eustis (JBLE) in Virginia.
JBLE is a US military facility located adjacent to Hampton and Newport News. The decision documented in the Record of Decision (ROD) is based on matters discussed in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
It also includes inputs from the public and regulatory agencies and other relevant factors.
In addition, the USAF signed an amended ROD that covered the accurate number of aircraft at the proposed F–22 FTU permanent bed-down.
The F-22 FTU was earlier based at Tyndall AFB in Florida.
Due to damage from tropical cyclone Hurricane Michael at the installation, the FTU was temporarily relocated to Eglin AFB in Florida.
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Before finalising timelines for planned force structure moves to JBLE, the USAF is awaiting the tactical air study’s completion.
According to the USAF, consolidating the F-22 fleet of fighter jets at JBLE would make use of existing force structure.
This would increase aircraft availability and reduce training timelines, which, in turn, would enhance pilot production rates and readiness.
In December 2019, Lockheed Martin received a $7bn five-year contract to maintain the USAF fleet of F-22 Raptor stealth fighters.
In addition, the service has decided to permanently bed down one additional F–35A FTU squadron at Eglin AFB.