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33RD FIGHTER WING|
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The 33rd Fighter Wing is a graduate flying and maintenance training wing for the F-35 Lightning II, organized under Air Education and Training Command. It is an associate unit on Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., an Air Force Materiel Command base. The wing also has geographically separated organizations at Tyndall AFB and Hurlburt Field, Fla.
The mission of the 33rd Fighter Wing is to train world-class F-35 pilots and maintainers, air battle managers and intelligence personnel.
Personnel and Resources
The wing will reach full strength in 2014 with 800 USAF personnel, contributing to a total of 1,500 U.S. military, government civilian and contractor personnel assigned to the F-35 Integrated Training Center. Annual student capacity is planned for 100 pilots and 2,100 maintainers by 2018. The first F-35 aircraft supporting Air Force, Marine, Navy and international partner training arrived in July 2011, and deliveries will continue through 2018, with 59 total aircraft expected.
The 33rd Fighter Wing manages the F-35 ITC, training F-35 pilots and maintainers for the Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy, as well as foreign nations. The wing operates five squadrons aligned under the operations and maintenance groups. In addition to these two groups, the Academic Training Center manages the training systems, support centers, classrooms, simulators, and ground training devices.
33rd Operations Group
The 33rd Operations Group is comprised of the 58th Fighter Squadron, training Air Force pilots with the F-35A Conventional Takeoff and Landing variant; the 337th Air Control Squadron , training U.S. and allied air battle managers at Tyndall AFB; and the 33rd Operations Support Squadron. The group also operates the Air Force Special Operations Forces Intelligence Formal Training Unit at Hurlburt Field, , and will stand up the F-35 IFTU at Eglin AFB in 2014.
The 58th FS "Mighty Gorillas" are authorized to operate 24 assigned F-35A aircraft, planning and executing a training curriculum in support of Air Force and international partner pilot training requirements. The F-35A is a conventional-takeoff-and-landing, low-observable, multi-role fighter aircraft designed with 5th-generation sensors and weapons able to perform air superiority, air interdiction and close air support missions. The F-35A made its maiden flight on December 15, 2006 and first arrived at the ITC July 14, 2011. The Gorillas also possess two Royal Netherland Air Force F-35As that arrived at Eglin AFB July 26, 2013 .
The 337th ACS trains air battle managers for the Air Force, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve. Additionally, its members provide command and control support for Tyndall's F-22 Raptor training mission and train international officers for tactical command and control operations.
The 33 OSS "Jokers" provide wing-level operational intelligence training, weapons and tactics, aircrew flight equipment, training and scheduling support for the flying squadrons.
33rd Maintenance Group
The mission of the 33rd Maintenance Group is to deliver safe, reliable and on-time aircraft to support F-35 pilot and maintainer training. The group has oversight of all aircraft maintenance, sortie generation, weapons loading operations and logistics integration for the 33rd FW.
The group consists of two squadrons; the 33rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and the 33rd Maintenance Squadron.
The 33rd AMXS "Dragons" provide safe and reliable on-equipment maintenance for 58th Fighter Squadron flying operations with crew chiefs, weapons, and specialist support.
The 33rd MXS "Wizards" provide both on- and off-equipment maintenance and oversight supporting F-35 flying operations for the assigned Air Force, Navy, and Marine flying squadrons. Support is provided by the following flights to ensure continued aircraft availability: accessories (egress, fuels); aerospace ground equipment ; armament; fabrication (low observable, non-destructive inspection, metals tech), and maintenance (wheel and tire).
The Academic Training Center
The Academic Training Center is a government-owned, contractor-operated, state-of-the-art 260,000-square-foot facility that provides all academic and simulation training for F-35 pilots and maintainers. Students receive interactive and self-paced lectures on modern, hands-on computer-based systems. They also hone their skills on a myriad of advanced training devices, such as the Full Mission Simulator, a 360-degree F-35 flight trainer, or the Weapons Load Trainer, in which maintenance students practice hands on maintenance skills on a full-scale mock-up of the F-35 fuselage. The ATC also hosts the training system support Center,the nerve center for all F-35 configuration management and course materials (syllabi, aircraft training devices) for U.S. and partner nations.
The F-35 ITC is home to other collocated units that participate in F-35 training.
Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501, known as VMFAT 501, "Warlords" are authorized to operate 20 assigned F-35B aircraft, planning and executing a training curriculum in support of Marine and international partner training requirements. The F-35B is a short-takeoff/vertical-landing, low-observable, multi-role fighter aircraft designed to provide overwhelming front-line firepower in support of Marine ground forces. The F-35B uses a specially-designed shaft-driven lift fan system to achieve vertical lift and will be able to operate from ship-to-shore and austere battlefield locations. The F-35B made its first flight June 11, 2008 and was received by the ITC Jan. 11, 2012. The first of three United Kingdom F-35Bs arrived July 23, 2012. VMFAT-501 is assigned to Marine Aircraft Group 31, Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, S.C.
Strike Fighter Squadron 101, known as VFA 101 , "Grim Reapers" are authorize to operate 15 assigned F-35C aircraft, planning and executing a training curriculum in support of Navy aviator training requirements. The F-35C is a carrier-capable, low-observable, multi-role fighter aircraft designed to provide unmatched airborne power projection from the sea. The F-35C bears structural modifications from the other variants, necessitated by the increased resiliency required for carrier operations. The maiden flight of the F-35C took place June 7, 2010, and the aircraft was first delivered to the F-35 ITC June 22, 2013. VFA-101 is assigned to Commander, Strike Fighter Wing, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Naval Air Station Lemoore, CA.
The 359th Training Squadron, located at Eglin AFB, is assigned to the 82nd Training Wing, Sheppard AFB, Texas. They conduct technical and military training Air Force enlisted initial skills for F-35 crew chiefs, avionics, and armament air force speciality codes at Eglin and non-destructive inspection, aircraft structural maintenance, and low observable AFSCs at NAS Pensacola, Fla. They are also responsible for training all Marine Corps and Navy F-35 maintenance specialties. The squadron manages a joint-use $16.5M dormitory for Airmen, Marine, and Sailor "pipeline" students and is responsible for 133 U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy military and civilian personnel at two GSUs.
Field Training Detachment 19, 372nd Training Squadron, is also assigned to the 82nd Training Wing and provides transition maintenance training to maintainers who are transitioning from other types of aircraft.
The 33rd Fighter Wing, known as the "Nomads" for its constant travel throughout the world, has a long, distinguished history. The unit traces its lineage to the 33rd Pursuit Group, which was activated in January, 1941 at Mitchel Field, New York. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the group defended the mid-Atlantic coast against enemy attack, moving among several sites from Connecticut to Virginia.
Redesignated the 33rd Fighter Group in 1942, the unit was deployed to North Africa as part of Operation TORCH, an Allied attempt to open a second front against the Axis in Europe. On November 10, P-40 Warhawks launched from the decks of the aircraft carriers that transported them across the Atlantic, setting up airfields in Morocco. The Nomads provided close air support and flew bombing and strafing missions against targets throughout the North African campaign. They also flew in the Italian, India-Burmese and Chinese theaters, flying alongside famed units such as the Lafayette Escadrille, the Tuskegee Airmen and the Flying Tigers. The Nomads notched 126.5 aerial victories during World War II, with three pilots confirmed as aces.
Between World War II and the Vietnam conflict, the wing was activated and inactivated a number of times in various locations in Germany, Maryland, New Mexico and Massachusetts, contributing to the occupation of Germany. The organization was inactive during the Korean War.
The 33rd Tactical Fighter Wing was activated at Eglin AFB, Florida on February 9, 1965 during the buildup of military forces in preparation for operations in Vietnam. The wing deployed eight F-4 Phantom II squadrons to various locations in Southeast Asia, including Thailand, Vietnam and South Korea. On June 2, 1972, the 58th Fighter Squadron became Tactical Air Command's first unit to down a MiG in Southeast Asia. The wing tallied two MiG kills during the war.
In 1979, the wing converted to the F-15 Eagle, with the last F-4 departing May 25. In October, 1983, the Nomads flew combat air patrols and intercept missions during Operation URGENT FURY in Grenada. The wing also provided air cover over Panama during Operation JUST CAUSE in December, 1989.
In August, 1990, in response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, the Nomads deployed 24 F-15s to Saudi Arabia in support of Operation DESERT SHIELD. On January 17, 1991, as Operation DESERT STORM began, the Nomads scored the first aerial victory of the war, finishing the conflict with 16 kills, the most of any allied unit in the conflict.
In May, 1992, the 728th Air Control Squadron was assigned to the wing. Over the next decade, the Nomads would provide mobile radar surveillance and tracking to almost every U.S. military operation, including Operations SOUTHERN WATCH, RESTORE HOPE, SUPPORT SOVEREIGNTY, SUPPORT JUSTICE III & IV, CORONET MACAW, STEADY STATE, DENY FLIGHT, DESERT CALM and ALLIED FORCE.
The Nomads also continued to patrol the skies over Iraq as part of Operations SOUTHERN and NORTHERN WATCH. On June 25, 1996, 12 Nomads gave the ultimate sacrifice during the terrorist bombing of the Khobar Towers complex in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.
Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Nomads provided combat air patrols and aerial surveillance for the U.S. during Operation NOBLE EAGLE, marking the second time in its history the Nomads defended the U.S. homeland following a surprise attack.
In March 7, 2003, the Nomads deployed 12 F-15s to Southwest Asia in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. Due to the Iraqi Air Force's refusal to contest the skies, the Nomads returned after only seven weeks in theater.
In 2005, a Department of Defense Base Realignment and Closure Commission directed the divestment of the Nomads' F-15s and established the 33rd FW as the host unit for the tri-service/partner nation F-35 Integrated Training Center. On March 20, 2009, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for the new mission , and the wing's final F-15 departed September 8. The first F-35 arrived on July 14, 2011 and formal training for pilots and maintainers began in March 2012.