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Air Force wants your opinion on more F-22 Raptors at Langley AFB

An F-22 Raptor takes off from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, after an elephant walk, Tuesday, March 26, 2019.

JUSTIN CONNAHER/U.S. AIR FORCE

By HUGH LESSIG | The Daily Press | Published: May 10, 2019

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (Tribune News Service) — Air Force leaders want Langley Air Force Base to host additional F-22 Raptors, but they want to hear from the public first.

A meeting is scheduled for May 22 at the Peninsula Workforce Development Center, 600 Butler Farm Road, Hampton, to talk about the proposed move and get public comment.

At issue is the F-22 Formal Training Unit — essentially the Raptor schoolhouse — that had been based at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida.

Tyndall sustained heavy damage from Hurricane Michael, and President Donald Trump toured the base Wednesday, promising relief to the region.

Plans are to rebuild Tyndall, but it would host the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter rather than the F-22.

After the hurricane, the training unit was temporarily moved to Eglin AFB, Fla.

Virginia’s congressional delegation went to bat for Langley as the new host, and the Air Force in March announced that the Hampton installation was its preferred location, pending an environmental impact study.

Local officials have said the move could bring up to 800 jobs to the region.

Before the move becomes official, the Air Force must prepare an environmental impact statement. The service is formally evaluating Langley and Eglin, although Langley is the recommended alternative.

Bruce Sturk, a Hampton city official who works with federal facilities, said one possible concern will be noise from additional fighter jets. But the addition of a third F-22 squadron would, in effect, return the base to “the days of old” when it housed three F-15 squadrons, he said.

Langley, formally known as Joint Base Langley-Eustis, was meant to accommodate three F-22 squadrons, but Congress curtailed production of the stealth fighter. Additional jets could be brought in at minimal expense to taxpayers, the state’s congressional delegation has pointed out.

In addition, Langley is home to the 192nd Fighter Wing of the Virginia Air National Guard, whose pilots fly and deploy with their Langley counterparts.

The May 22 meeting has three phases:

5-6:30 p.m.: open house and comment submission.

6:30-7 p.m.: Air Force presentation

7-8 p.m.: Additional time for open house and comment.

To submit comments online and download other information, go to https://tinyurl.com/yy5s3ng5. Comments can be submitted through June 24.

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©2019 the Daily Press (Newport News, Va.)
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