Tyndall Air Force Base celebrates groundbreaking for the future

Published: Sep. 13, 2022 at 9:20 PM CDT
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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Construction at Tyndall Air Force Base isn’t slowing down. The base is set to become “The Installation of the Future.”

The 325th Fighter Wing held a groundbreaking ceremony for Zone 1 Tuesday afternoon. It will include the facilities for the three squadrons of the F-35A Lightning II Jets coming to Tyndall.

“Being a fighter pilot for 23 years in the Air Force, it’s really exciting to bring the newest aircraft and all those people together,” said Col. George Watkins, Commander of the 325th Fighter Wing. “So getting those jets on Tyndall is a priority of mine, and getting all the people on board and trained so we’re ready to go if our nation calls on us.”

Watkins said the jets have advanced technologies on them.

“The most important thing of the F-35 is the stealth capability and the situational awareness that is gives the pilot,” Watkins said. “I have a big computer screen that shows me what’s going around at all times. The video is more like a video game so it’s very intuitive. I can see if there’s someone behind me, if there’s someone in front of me, if there’s someone 100 miles away.”

Hensel Phelps Construction Co. will be working on Zone 1.

“It’s a tremendous honor,” Hensel Phelps Construction Co. Operations Manager Paul O’Donnell said. “We have a long history of building for the military. We’re mobilizing about 50 staff people here for this job from around Florida for this project.”

Military leaders expect the new jets will bring in around 2,000 airmen and their families to Tyndall. They also say some jets will arrive at the base in September 2023.