Florida politicians are quickly giving support to a U.S. Air Force recommendation to use supplemental funds to eventually locate three squadrons of F-35 fighters at hurricane-ravaged Tyndall Air Force Base.

The Panhandle military base, a major economic engine in the region, was severely damaged by Hurricane Michael in October.

“We have recommended that the best path forward to increase readiness and use money wisely is to consolidate the operational F-22s formerly at Tyndall in Alaska, Hawaii and Virginia, and make the decision now to put the next three squadrons of F-35s beyond those for which we have already made decisions at Tyndall,” Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said in a statement.

Under the proposal, up to 72 F-35s would be based at Tyndall, beginning in 2023.

U.S. Rep. Neal Dunn, a Republican from Panama City, and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, a Miami Republican, issued statements Friday backing the recommendation.

Hurricane Michael on Oct. 10 damaged 95 percent of the buildings at Tyndall — including aircraft hangars and flight operations structures — leading to fears that the base, where pilots have trained to fly F-22s, would be downsized or shuttered permanently.

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