TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE -- The delay of the new F-22 Raptor squadron to Tyndall is part of a larger "domino effect" that stretches back to the Arizona desert, officials told The News Herald.
The holdup in bringing the Raptors out of the desert is part of the reason the delay is so lengthy, according to U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, a Panama City Republican.
"It is a domino effect," said Southerland, who indicated he already is at work to break up the F-22 logjam. "It is largely caused by the production of the F-35s."
Lockheed Martin, which developed the F-22 Raptor, has been slow in developing the F-35 for the Air Force, including ones for Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. The Department of Defense also hopes to sell some F-35s to U.S. allies.
When Luke AFB receives its jets, the base's F-16s will be sent to Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. When that happens, the F-22 Raptor squadron at Holloman would be able to move to Tyndall.
The new fighter squadron is expected to begin arriving at Tyndall in 2014.
Brian Gulley, a spokesman for U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., said the delay has to do with the suspension of aircraft delivery, which was halted last fall.
"Every move has been held up by the fiscal cliff," Gulley said.
The military dodged the recent fiscal cliff -- at least until March, when nearly $500 billion in cuts could be back on the table, according to the Department of Defense.
In total, the transfer of the fighter squadron from Holloman involves 620 active duty and 230 Air Force Reserve manpower authorizations. Twenty-one F-22s and seven T-38 Talons are scheduled to move from Holloman to Tyndall.
Some T-38s are expected to arrive at Tyndall sometime this year.
Brain Rogers, spokesman for U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, said the F-35s still are coming to Luke AFB.
The development of the F-35 has been dogged by missed deadlines and cost overruns, according to the Congressional Budget Office, and Congress has criticized the program. The F-35 Lightning II is a family of single-seat, single-engine, fifth generation, multirole fighters under development to perform ground attack, reconnaissance and air defense missions with stealth capability, according to the Air Force.