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News > AETC commander sees opportunity, innovation at F-35 training wing
All hands
General Stephen R. Lorenz, commander of Air Education and Training Command, speaks to more than 200 33rd Fighter Wing Airmen, Marines, Sailors, contract partners and one soldier at an "all hands" call April 26 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The visit to Eglin was to check on the wing and see how the wing is taking "the opportunity to shape the future," training pilots and maintainers on the F-35. (Courtesy photo.)
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AETC commander sees opportunity, innovation at F-35 training wing

Posted 4/30/2010   Updated 4/30/2010 Email story   Print story


by Ashley M. Wright
Team Eglin Public Affairs

4/30/2010 - EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- General Stephen R. Lorenz, commander of Air Education and Training Command, visited the 33rd Fighter Wing April 26 to see how the wing is taking "the opportunity to shape the future," training pilots and maintainers on the F-35.

"[The wing's mission connects to] not just a larger Air Force mission, but a larger DoD mission, because they have the opportunity to shape the future on how we fly, maintain and integrate the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter across all the services including international [partners] that will be coming here," General Lorenz said.

Currently, projections indicate more than 2,100 pilots and maintainers annually training on the 5th generation aircraft when the wing reaches full capacity in 2014. The Air Force, Marines, Navy and international partner nations will send their students to Eglin for instruction on the F-35.

"General Lorenz's positive feedback and motivation couldn't have been timelier," said Col. David Hlatky, 33rd Fighter Wing commander. "Our folks are feeling the drain of driving integration and best practices for F-35 training at the same time they are bedding down new equipment and learning complex new systems. When the four-star validated their innovative concepts, thanked them for the effort and then asked how he can help, everyone got a lift."

The purpose of the general's visit was to receive a status report on the 33rd Fighter Wing and the Integrated Training Center that will train F-35 pilots and maintainers for the Air Force, Navy, Marines and eight coalition partners.

Included in his update were a campus tour, mission brief, and a 33 FW "all hands" call where General Lorenz addressed more than 200 Airmen, Marines, Sailors, contract partners and one soldier.

"It was a lot of insight on how he sees things," said Cpl. Lewis McCormick, Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501. "He talked about how it was important for us being the first boots on the ground and setting the tone for future joint operations. It made me a little more proud to be a part of this organization."

The general said like all new ventures, challenges are bound to arise.

"There are lots of challenges whenever you bring new weapons systems on board," he said. "There are challenges on the integration of the services and the international [partners], how we are going to share the ranges around here, how we are going to share the runways."

However, General Lorenz pointed to one factor capable of surpassing those challenges that does not recognize one particular service over any other: leadership.

"A lot of great leaders from the all the services are working these issues on a day-to-day basis and are doing a great job," he said.

General Lorenz, who is charged with developing America's Airmen today...for tomorrow, anticipates 33rd FW leadership continuing to build on the "Nomads" distinguished history as they work toward the integrated training center housing not only Airmen, but Sailors, Marines and international students as well.

"As a team, I expect them to build a foundation for others in the future to move the ball down the field," the general said. "They are going to have an opportunity to shape the future. That opportunity is only given to a few people, especially in such a large defense program like the JSF, which is the largest defense program in the DoD at this time."

To keep pace with the expanding realm of technology, AETC recently added a fourth core competency: Innovate, the general said during a recent trip to Keesler AFB.

As the 33rd FW prepares to continue its air power dominance for the next half century by training aviators and maintainers on the joint strike fighter, the general forecasted innovation on a multitude of levels.

"This is a perfect example with the leveling off top lines of the Dept. of Defense budget: where they have to think faster, better and cheaper in order to accomplish the same mission in the 21st century," General Lorenz said. "Building and bringing the F-35 to Eglin and the 33rd FW is on the cutting edge of all these issues, and they are on the forefront of innovation."

The 33rd Fighter Wing closed its operations with the F-15 Eagle in September 2009 and became the DoD's first F-35 Lightning II training wing on Oct. 1, 2009. The F-35 establishment at Eglin stems from a 2005 Base Realignment and Closure decision.

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