"Exposed by Michael: Climate Threat to Warplanes at Coastal Bases"

"When Hurricane Michael wrecked much of Tyndall Air Force Base near Panama City, Fla., last week, the storm exposed a significant military vulnerability. The base’s F-22 stealth fighter jets may be unmatched in the skies, but they were all but defenseless on the ground, as the powerful storm ripped apart hangars, flooded buildings and scattered debris.

Most of Tyndall’s 55 F-22s were flown away to safety before the storm hit, but 17 of the aircraft had been grounded for maintenance and could not be made airworthy in time. Those jets, worth about $5.8 billion — more than three times what it would cost to rebuild the entire base from scratch — had to be left behind, and many were damaged.

The Air Force played down the harm this week, saying that all the aircraft could be repaired. But the military has more than a dozen air bases right on the coast in storm-prone southern states, where scientists predict that hurricanes will grow more intense and more frequent because of global warming. Michael’s devastation of Tyndall raises question about how well the bases are defended against the elements."

Dave Philipps reports for the New York Times October 17, 2018.

Source: NY Times, 10/18/2018