PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) – The United State Air Force is retiring 30 F-22 Raptor fighter jets at Tyndall Air Force Base as it continues to move towards the future.

Tyndall received its first F-22 Raptors in 2004 when it was named the Air Force’s only training base for Raptor pilots.

After Hurricane Michael destroyed the base in 2018, the Air Force moved the pilot training mission to nearby Eglin Air Force Base.

It’s those first jets delivered to Tyndall that the Air Force now wants to retire.

Bay Defense Alliance President Tom Neubauer said retiring these older aircraft that are not fully combat-capable is vital to our national defense.

He said it will be the most efficient way to spend tax dollars as well as deliver the greatest amount of airpower for the money.

“The 30 jets that are in the formal training unit were “Block 20s” and needed a lot of money to upgrade, were costing a lot for just operations and maintenance costs compared to the rest of the fleet so the effort was to retire those jets… They were successful in doing that,” Neubauer said.

It will also help Tyndall by freeing up aircraft maintenance professionals needed to support the incoming F-35s.

“The good news for us is we are still getting F-35s at Tyndall,” Neubauer said. “They are on schedule. That’s the jet that they are building a lot of. We’re down to, once this retirement happens, 153 F-22s across the airforce.”

Currently, the plan is to move the F-22 training unit to Langley Air Force Base in Virginia.

“They are one of the best aircraft ever built by the Air Force and they are great for air to air roles so they will have a very important position in the Air Force for a long time but their home base will not likely be Tyndall,” Neubauer said. “The training part of it will likely be in Virginia and then the other two bases in Alaska and Hawaii.”

While Tyndall will be losing 30 F-22s, it will be gaining 72 F-35s.

“It’s hard to believe the F-22 has been around for as long as it has, but the F-35 is the next generation,” Neubauer said. “Everything about it is less expensive to operate and building as many of them as they are planning long term makes Tyndall’s future very bright.”

The first F-35 jet is still on schedule to arrive at Tyndall Air Force Base in the fall of next year.