Hurricane Michael “Knocks Out” 22 F-22 Raptor Stealth Fighters… Or Not.

Hurricane Michael “Knocks Out” 22 F-22 Raptor Stealth Fighters… Or Not.

Guest aircraft identification by David Middleton

From Pacific Standard (sounds more like a home builder or railroad than a publication)…


For the Air Force, climate change just got personal.


At least 35 people were killed when Hurricane Michael barreled into the Florida panhandle last week, the latest in a string of storms whose growing intensity scientists have linked to climate change. But while America’s elected leaders continue to deny the existence of climate change, there’s at least one faction of the Trump administration that’s taking the threat seriously: the United States military.

For years the Department of Defense (DOD) has viewed climate change as a “threat multiplier,” rather than a direct national security concern…

“For years” = mostly the 8 years of the Obama maladministration.

Consider the case of Tyndall Air Force Base, home to 55 fifth-generation F-22 Raptor fighter jets that are essential to Air Force operations. At least 33 of the aircraft were dispatched to safety at a base in Ohio ahead of Michael’s landfall, but satellite photos published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the aftermath of the storm revealed the wreckage of several of the pricey stealth fighters among the debris; according to reporting from Foreign Policy, “as many as” 17 Raptors “may be damaged or destroyed.” (The Air Force says the damage to the aircraft “was less than … feared.”)

Any losses with these jets are pretty devastating. As noted by Task & Purpose, only 80 of the Air Force’s 182 Raptors are mission-capable, mostly because of the airframe’s unusual production history and the scarcity of spare parts.


Pacific Standard

The Pacific Standard article was accompanied by this photo…

Wreckage at the Tyndall Air Force Base following Hurricane Michael. (Photo: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

This picture is of the base’s static display exhibit aircraft, Cold War vintage jets and an F-15 & F-16 representing aircraft that attempted intercepts and/or flew CAP on 9/11.

The F-86/F-84 is probably an F-86D “Dog Sabre”. The F-4 might be an F-101 Voodoo. I’m sure there’s a reference out there somewhere… But there isn’t an F-22 in sight.


There is one photo of a possibly damaged F-22.

Here’s the only photo we’ve seen yet of one of the F-22s left behind. The hangar is clearly damaged, but it’s unclear if the Raptor was as well. Business Insider/Reuters

The 22 Raptors left behind were not flyable.  They were secured in hangars.  Since the base took a direct hit, most were probably damaged.  That’s what hurricanes do.

Typhoons and Hurricanes: Pacific Typhoon, 18 December 1944

On 17 December 1944, the ships of Task Force 38, seven fleet and six light carriers, eight battleships, 15 cruisers, and about 50 destroyers were operating about 300 miles east of Luzon in the Philippine Sea. The carriers had just completed three days of heavy raids against Japanese airfields, suppressing enemy aircraft during the American amphibious operations against Mindoro in the Philippines. Although the sea had been becoming rougher all day, the nearby cyclonic disturbance gave relatively little warning of its approach. On 18 December, the small but violent typhoon overtook the Task Force while many of the ships were attempting to refuel. Many of the ships were caught near the center of the storm and buffeted by extreme seas and hurricane force winds. Three destroyers, USS Hull, USS Spence, and USS Monaghan, capsized and went down with practically all hands, while a cruiser, five aircraft carriers, and three destroyers suffered serious damage. Approximately 790 officers and men were lost or killed, with another 80 injured. Fires occurred in three carriers when planes broke loose in their hangars and some 146 planes on various ships were lost or damaged beyond economical repair by fires, impact damage, or by being swept overboard.This storm inflicted more damage on the Navy than any storm since the hurricane at Apia, Samoa in 1889. In the aftermath of this deadly storm, the Pacific Fleet established new weather stations in the Caroline Islands and, as they were secured, Manila, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. In addition, new weather central offices (for coordinating data) were established at Guam and Leyte.

Naval History and Heritage Command


The genuine threat to national security here is this:

Only 80 of the Air Force’s 182 Raptors are mission-capable, mostly because of the airframe’s unusual production history and the scarcity of spare parts.

A 44% readiness rate for our most advanced fighter-interceptor is a REAL national security threat.

In 2009, it was estimated that the incremental unit procurement cost for new F-22’s was $150 million per air-frame.  The cost to replace all of the 102 mission-incapable F-22’s would be about $15.3 billion.  Where on Earth could the Air Force get that kind of money?  Maybe from here:

How much does the federal government really spend on climate change programs?

According to Office of Management and Budget reports, federal climate change funding was $13.2 billion across 19 agencies in 2017. In the 6 agencies we reviewed, we found that 94% of their reported climate change funding went to programs that touch on, but aren’t dedicated to climate change, such as nuclear energy research.



$13.2 billion would have paid for 88 F-22’s at 2009 prices.

While the Air Force has opted to cease procurement of new F-22’s in 2012, zeroing this schist out would go a long way toward rebuilding our armed forces:

What GAO Found
In its reports to Congress, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) reported that annual federal climate change funding increased by $4.4 billion from fiscal years 2010 through 2017. For example, reported annual funding for technology to reduce emissions increased by about $3.5 billion, as seen in the figure below. Although OMB included information on federal fiscal exposure to climate change in the President’s budgets for fiscal year 2016 and 2017, it did not provide this information in its most recent climate change funding reports. For example, the reports did not include information on programs—such as disaster assistance—whose costs were likely to increase due to climate change which would have provided more complete information for making spending trade-off decisions for climate activities. According to GAO’s prior work, more complete information on fiscal exposures and the long-term effects of decisions would help policymakers make trade-offs between spending with long-term and short-term benefits.



Superforest,Climate Change

via Watts Up With That?

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