New F-22's at Tyndall Air Force Base

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TYNDALL After months of delay, Tyndall Air Force base is welcoming its first five F22 raptors.

The fighter planes are adding 1,100 positions on the base, and most of the pilots and their families arrived here last year.

No aviation unit has ever deployed out of Tyndall Air Force Base, but the arrival of Monday's F-22s could change that.

Air force families and pilots crowded the flight strip at Tyndall Air Force Base Monday afternoon to welcome the first fleet of F-22s.

325th Fighter Wing Commander Colonel David Graff says, "The fighter squadron showing up represents a new era and capability at Tyndall."

The aircraftc that arrived are a part of the 95th fighter squadron which reactivated in October.

The raptors touched land after a two and a half flight from New Mexico led by Lieutenant Colonel Erick Gilbert.

He says, "It's been delayed a year. I moved here about 15 months ago with my family. We love the gulf coast so just to be able to touch down and see this come into fruition, we still have a handful of planes to get here."

More are expected to arrive in February and March.

In total, more than 50 of the world's most advanced aircraft will call Tyndall home.

Lieutenant Colonel Gilbert says, "Our enemies are getting stronger, you know, they're spending a lot more money on technology - both their surfaced missiles and their airplanes also. So the raptor gives us a cutting edge advantage. It gives us the ability to work inside of enemy territory. It gives us an advantage."

325th Fighter Wing Commander Colonel David Graff says, "The sound of freedom just got a little bit louder over the world's most beautiful beaches."

Base officials are calling this the next step toward the new combat mission, marking a first in Tyndall history.


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