An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Tyndall's 82nd ATRS facilities near completion

  • Published
  • By Venessa Armenta
  • 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

With construction nearing completion, the 82nd Aerial Target Squadron prepares to take ownership of their new large and small boat facilities.

The facilities sustained significant damage following the impact of Hurricane Michael in 2018 and are a part of the Department of Defense’s largest rebuild project. Construction on the new ATRS facilities started in September 2021.  Also in 2018, Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center stood up the Program Management Office (PMO) to not only assist the commander at Tyndall but to support redevelopment and reconstruction.  This would lead the way for the Air Force Civil Engineer Center to establish the Natural Disaster Recovery Division to further amplify the Department of the Air Force’s ability to recover from natural disasters.

“The facilities were both destroyed,” explained Kevin Heath, 82nd ATRS contract manager. “The small building that we launch boats from to clear the corridor was completely wiped out, and all that remained was the concrete pad. The roof was completely removed from the large boat facility, and our docks were utterly destroyed.”

The unit has continued running missions since Hurricane Michael but has been displaced, moving to and from various locations until the new building can be occupied, even working out of a tent in the parking lot for some time. Though the wait has been long, the squadron is benefiting from the rebuild as the new facilities have increased in size and capability.

“Between the two buildings, we’ve increased the square footage by 291% compared to what we operated out of previously,” said Heath. “In addition to that, we have upgraded other features, such as the overhead cranes that were installed to make it easier to maintain our engines.”

The large boat facility measures 7,032 square feet and was elevated an additional six feet to mitigate the impact of potential storm surges. It is equipped with mechanical crane hoists, fuel pumps, concrete docks, controlled storage, workstations, a conference room and upgraded safety and security features.

The small boat facility is 4,200 square feet, and both facilities were constructed to meet the hurricane-resilient standards for the “Installation of the Future.”

Supplementary to once again having a permanent facility, the crew is excited about how these facilities will impact their mission’s success upon their completion in September 2023.

“We’re excited to have a building of this magnitude,” said Kenny Creel 82nd ATRS maritime boat captain. “Right now, we have stuff scattered down under the shop and within all three vessels. We look forward to having everything in one central location and the space will help us tremendously.”

The 82nd ATRS, a tenant unit at Tyndall Air Force Base, brings valuable resources to the base’s overall objectives as the only full-scale aerial target program in the DoD. This advances the wing’s mission to project unrivaled combat airpower by providing full and subscale unmanned aerial aircraft for pilots to conduct live-fire weapons systems during air-to-air combat training missions. Furthermore, the squadron utilizes the boats to retrieve the subscale drones to be reused for future targets.

To protect the safety of the community, Heath explained the different boats are used to clear the launch corridor or the waters below the airspace in which the drone aircraft fly. In the off chance the aircraft were to have a mechanical issue after launch, the 82nd ATRS has already cleared the area and the aircraft can safely land in the water without risk to life or property in the area. 

“It’s fantastic pilot training because they experience it live and there’s nowhere else in the country we could run this mission due to Tyndall’s position to the Gulf range,” said Heath.

To learn more about Tyndall rebuild projects, visit