JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS — On Friday, June 25, the United States Air Force (USAF) announced that Joint Base Langley-Eustis (JBLE) would be the future home of the F-22 Raptor Formal Training Unit (FTU).
After a thorough environmental analysis, including the completion of an Environmental Impact Statement and considerations taken from both public and regulatory agencies, the USAF signed the Record of Decision, which approved JBLE to be the station for the F-22 Raptor FTU.
This decision not only boosts the presence at the base, but also consolidates the F-22 fleet to JBLE. The USAF states that this will increase aircraft availability and decrease training timelines. The USAF stated that this will improve pilot production rates and readiness.
Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) issued a joint statement, praising the USAF’s decision.
“After years of advocating alongside the Virginia congressional delegation, we’re pleased that the U.S. Air Force has confirmed what we already knew: Hampton Roads is the ideal location to permanently house the F-22 training squadron,” the senators wrote in the statement. “We look forward to working with the U.S. Air Force and the Virginia Air National Guard to make sure the relocation process is a smooth one for the servicemembers and their families that will now make the Commonwealth their new home.”
In February 2019, the senators were joined by all members of the Virginia congressional delegation in sending a letter to then-USAF Secretary Heather Wilson, urging the relocation of the F-22 Fight and Maintenance FTU to JBLE.
The joint letter pointed out that JBLE was being underutilized, housing only two F-22 squadrons and supporting maintenance units.
The F-22 FTU used to be based out of Tyndall Air Force Base near Panama City, Fla. However, after Hurricane Michael caused damage to the installation in October 2018, the FTU was temporarily relocated to Eglin Air Force Base near Valparaiso, Fla.
The F-22 Raptor is considered the USAF’s newest aircraft. According to a fact sheet issued by Joint Base Langley-Eustis’ Public Affairs Office, “Its [F-22 Raptor] combination of stealth, supercruise, maneuverability, and integrated avionics, coupled with improved supportability, represents an exponential leap in warfighting capabilities.”