Two Virginia-based squadrons of Air Force F-22 Raptor fighter jets are flying into Ohio today, relocating from Langley Air Force Base in Norfolk ahead of Hurricane Florence.
The category 4 storm is still intensifying at sea, and is expected to make landfall by Thursday on the Atlantic coast. Storm surge totals in Norfolk could top eight feet, which would put the runway and jets at Langley Air Force Base in danger of severe damage.
The 94th and 27th fighter jet squadrons from the 1st Fighter Wing began arriving in Ohio at 10:45 a.m. Tuesday. An Air National Guard spokesman declined to identify the exact amount of jets moved to Ohio, for national security reasons.
A spokesman with the Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base in Lockbourne, south of Columbus, said the fighter jet squadrons would begin arriving at 10:45 a.m. Tuesday, and continue arriving throughout the day. The spokesman declined to identify the exact amount of jets coming to Ohio, for national security reasons.
A number of Northrop T-38 Talon jets, which the Air Force uses for training, were also be moved to Ohio on Tuesday. An Air Force officer who flew from Langley Air Force Base said on Tuesday that itâ€™s unclear how long the fighters will remain in Ohio.
â€œIt really depends. If that hurricane sits over the coast, or sits over the Carolinas and Virginia area, who knows how much rain could fall,â€ said Lt. Col. Nicholas Sigler. â€œWe want to make sure that the airfield is safe for us to return.â€
The jetsâ€™ arrival in Central Ohio attracted a small crowd of onlookers to Langley Air Force Base on Tuesday. The last time F-22s were stationed in Ohio was 2016, when Hurricane Matthew forced a similar evacuation.