Air Force Moves Fighter Jets Out of Virginia Ahead of Hurricane Florence

The U.S. Air Force has moved fighter jets out of Virginia ahead of Hurricane Florence’s forecasted landfall on Sept. 15.

Two squadrons of F-22 Raptor fighter jets flew from Langley Air Force Base in Norfolk, Virginia, to Ohio on Sept. 11.

Storm surges could severely damage the runway at Langley, according to weather reports, prompting the evacuation.

The jets were moved to Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base in Lockbourne, the Air Force said in a statement.

“We have facilities here that can withstand hurricane-level winds, but there’s no reason to risk any damage to our F-22 fleet,” Col. Jason Hinds, 1st Fighter Wing commander, told WVEC.

Air Force moves jets ahead of hurricane
A U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor takes off in preparation to relocate in advance of hurricane Florence at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, on Sept. 11, 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Anthony Nin Leclerec)
Air Force moves helicopters ahead of hurricane
U.S. Army Soldiers move a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter in preparation for Hurricane Florence at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia on Sept. 11, 2018 (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kaylee Dubois)

Other Aircraft Moved

In addition to the F-22s, the Air Force planned to move some Northrop T-38 Talon jets, which are typically used for training, and some UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters were secured at Felker Army Air Field in Newport News, Virginia.

Air Force officers are keeping an eye on the hurricane forecast and don’t know yet how long the fighters will remain in Ohio.

“It really depends. If that hurricane sits over the coast or sits over the Carolinas and Virginia area, who knows how much rain could fall,” Lt. Col. Nicholas Sigler told WSYX. “We want to make sure that the airfield is safe for us to return.”

A spokesperson for the Air Force declined to identify the exact number of jets moved out of Virginia, citing national security reasons.

Air Force moves jets ahead of hurricane
A U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor takes off to relocate in advance of hurricane Florence at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia on Sep. 11, 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Anthony Nin Leclerec)

Military Bases Evacuated

Among the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have evacuated ahead of Florence are tens of thousands of troops, their families, and recruits, reported Military.com.

The following bases have been evacuated: Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina; Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina; Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina; Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia; Naval Air Station Oceana-Dam Neck Annex, Virginia.

Also, Marines and sailors at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina were told they could evacuate but that evacuation was not mandatory.

And at least five bases were on high alert but had not issued any evacuation orders yet; those were Shaw Air Force Base and Fort Jackson in South Carolina; Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point and Fort Bragg in North Carolina; and Joint Expeditionary Base Fort Story in Virginia.

A number of scheduled graduation ceremonies across all the bases were partially canceled and/or relocated.