|A bastion of military aviation
Military aviation is deeply embedded in the fabric of the Gulf Coast, and there’s good
reason to believe the footprint will grow
No matter how you look at it, whether it’s through the value of their infrastructure,
their depth of talent, the businesses awarded contracts or their critical missions, the
Gulf Coast’s military bases are a huge, multibillion-dollar ongoing asset for the region.
The Gulf Coast is one of the most military friendly regions in the nation, a place
where the roar of a jet fighter or a distant rumble from exploded munitions are
considered the sounds of freedom.
The numbers tell the story.
According to the Department of Defense Base Structure Report FY 2015, a summary
of the military’s real property inventory, there are 45 DoD properties in the corridor
between New Orleans and Panama City, Fla. That includes bases and annexes with
a combined replacement value of nearly $22 billion.
Of that, the aviation-focused military bases had a combined replacement value of
more than $17.6 billion - include outlying fields and other aviation-related annexes
and it goes up another $1 billion-plus.
The bases account for incoming dollars through active and retiree payrolls, as well
the contracts awarded to local companies for work here and elsewhere. Between
2000 and 2015, 4,939 companies in 19 I-10 counties/parishes were awarded 88,130
DoD contracts valued at more than $84.7 billion.
The range of military activities in the region is also staggering. The legendary Navy
Blue Angels flight demonstration team is headquartered at Naval Air Station
Pensacola, and the Air Force trains pilots to fly the F-35 and F-22 at Eglin Air Force
Base and Tyndall Air Force Base, respectively.
It’s also home to the Air Force Special Operations Command at Hurlburt Field, and
the busiest naval air station in the nation at Naval Air Station Whiting Field. It has one
of the largest bases in the nation, Eglin Air Force Base, which boasts a huge R&D
program that develops aerial-deployed weapons.
Every military branch is represented in activities ranging from training to logistics.
Military appreciation events are common
Communities from New Orleans to Panama City, Fla., have come to rely on military
spending as pillars of their economies.
While there is almost no place on the Gulf Coast between New Orleans and
Northwest Florida where the presence of the military or Coast Guard isn’t felt, bases
are clustered in Northwest Florida and South Mississippi.