It's official: Tyndall must halt all new construction

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - The May 1 deadline has come and gone for Tyndall Air Force Base to receive supplemental funding for reconstruction.

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson issued us a statement saying, "The Air Force will be forced to stop all new rebuilding efforts at Tyndall Air Force Base because of the lack of Congressional funding. This prevents new contracts from being started at Tyndall, further the Air Force will be forced to pull money from other communities around the country to cover our losses."

According to the Air Force, Hurricane Michael inflicted $4.7 billion dollars of damage to Tyndall.

To this point, the base has spent $300 million on repairs--that money coming from the Air Force's facilities restoration modernization funds.

Brigadier General Patrice Melancon, Executive Director of Tyndall Reconstruction Program Management Office, said, "We basically have robbed Peter to pay Paul. We have taken funds that were allocated for other Air Force bases. There's approximately 61 other FSRM projects that have been delayed or deferred because took that money for the immediate need to conduct the operations here at Tyndall."

The base still has several operational units like the QF-16s. But the lack of supplemental money to continue repairs could affect the future of new operations.

"The impact is that every day that we delay with getting authorization for that money potentially delays our ability to meet the Secretary's stated intent of one October 2023 bringing that first F-35 here," said Melancon.

Still, some lawmakers remain optimistic.

Senator Marco Rubio said, "I am 100% confident that Tyndall has a strong and powerful future ahead of it. The Air Force is not going to abandon that facility." While Congressman Neal Dunn said, "We're still going to rebuild Tyndall but if we don't get it in by May 1 what happens is we're in danger of having the calendar slip another fiscal year so instead of finishing the rebuild in 2023 we might finish it in 2024."

As for what's next, base officials say they will continue to plan and strategize for future reconstruction.

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