Air Force F-22 Raptor fighter jets worth at least $143 million apiece may have been damaged in onslaught of Hurricane Michael on the Florida panhandle.
A squadron of the stealthy aircraft is based at Tyndall Air Force Base, which suffered catastrophic damage in the Category 4 storm on Wednesday. The Air Force confirmed Friday that not all of the aircraft at the base were evacuated beforehand.
"A number of aircraft were left behind in hangars due to maintenance or safety reasons, and all of those hangars are damaged,” Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said in a statement. “We anticipate the aircraft parked inside may be damaged as well, but we won't know the extent until our crews can safely enter those hangars and make an assessment.”
Some F-22s were among the aircraft in the hangars on the base, which was working to clear routes and assess the storm damage, Defense One reported. The Air Force did not immediately confirm the report.
[Also read: Damage risk from brutish Hurricane Michael surges to $19 billion]
JUST IN: Source tells me a number of F-22a were not evacuated from Tyndall Air Force Base because they were down for maintenance and couldn't fly. USAF says hangers were damaged but does not know condition of jets inside. Asked their condition, source says, "not good" #Michael— Marcus Weisgerber (@MarcusReports) October 12, 2018
The Raptor is an advanced fifth-generation jet. But the high cost of the program and a different strategic outlook at the time led Congress to end the $65 billion program in 2009.
Only 187 operational F-22s were built, and the last one was delivered to the Air Force in 2012.
The Air Force estimates the unit price for the Raptors at $143 million, but the price for each aircraft was $350 million when the costs for the entire program including research and development were factored, according to the Congressional Research Service.
Aerial footage showed extensive damage to the Florida base, including an upended jet on static display.