EGLIN AFB — Seventeen fighter jets from a Marine Corps air base in South Carolina will ride out Hurricane Florence here.
The aircraft — 13 F-35B stealth fighter jets, two British-built MK-58 Hawker Hunter fighter jets, and two Israeli-built F-21 Kfir fighter jets — arrived at Eglin Air Force Base from Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort on Tuesday, according to Eglin public affairs spokeswoman Jasmine Porterfield.
MCAS Beaufort is a short distance inland from coastal South Carolina, between Charleston and Savannah, Georgia.
The jets will be accommodated on the flight line of the 33rd Fighter Wing, according to Porterfield. The evacuation to Eglin is a particularly good fit for the F-35s from MCAS Beaufort because the 33rd Fighter Wing is the graduate flight and maintenance wing for the F-35.
More aircraft could be evacuated to Eglin from other military bases as Hurricane Florence advances toward the East Coast, Porterfield said.
"There's always a possibility of more, but at this point this (the 17 aircraft from MCAS Beaufort) is what we expect," Porterfield said.
According to Porterfield, there are no prearranged evacuation sites for military aircraft in the event of weather emergencies such as Hurricane Florence. Decisions on what aircraft will be evacuated from a given base and where they go depend on the circumstances of each storm.
"It's definitely based on the requirements of the evacuating unit," Porterfield said.
MCAS Beaufort was under a mandatory evacuation order from Col. Timothy Miller, the facility commander, that was to take effect at noon Tuesday. That order was later rescinded as South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster rescinded a state-ordered mandatory evacuation of coastal South Carolina counties as Florence's projected track was moving north away from the area.
In other storm-related news, Gulf Power was making plans Tuesday to send a storm team from Northwest Florida to the Carolinas to help restore power in the wake of the hurricane.
According to Gulf Power spokesman Gordon Paulus, the utility will send 75 people — 50 lineworkers and 25 support personnel — to the Carolinas later this week.