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33rd Fighter Wing

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33rd Fighter Wing
RAF, USAF, USMC and USN F-35s in May 2014
Active1947–1952; 1956–1957; 1965–present
CountryUnited States
BranchAir Force
Part ofAir Education and Training Command
Garrison/HQEglin Air Force Base
Nickname(s)Nomads[citation needed]
Motto(s)Fire From the Clouds[1]
EngagementsSouthwest Asia[1]
DecorationsAir Force Outstanding Unit Award[1]
Colonel David M. Skalicky
Vice CommanderColonel Jordan G. Grant
Command ChiefChief Master Sergeant Kelvin J. Hatcher
Carrol Chandler
John P. Jumper
William R. Looney III
Gregory S. Martin[1]
33rd Fighter Wing emblem (approved 5 October 1965)[1]

The 33rd Fighter Wing, sometimes written 33d Fighter Wing, (33 FW) is a United States Air Force unit assigned to Air Education and Training Command's Nineteenth Air Force. It is stationed at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida where it is a tenant unit.

The 33 FW is an AETC training unit. Its main mission is to train United States Air Force and partner nation pilots and maintainers on the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II. When the wing was initially assigned the F-35 training mission on 1 October 2009 it was to include USN/USMC F-35C and USMC F-35B training as well as USAF F-35A and international partner training. Navy squadron VFA-101 was assigned to the wing to conduct F-35C training and USMC squadron VMFAT-501 to conduct F-35B training. In July 2014 VMFAT-501 was detached from the 33rd Fighter Wing and reassigned to Marine Aircraft Group 31 (MAG-31) at MCAS Beaufort, SC ending the USMC presence in the wing. In December 2017 the USN reactivated VFA-125 at NAS Lemoore, CA under Strike Fighter Wing Pacific Fleet to conduct F-35C training for the USN and USMC. On 1 July 2019 VFA-101 was deactivated ending the USN presence in the 33rd Fighter Wing.

Prior to its assignment as a training wing, while still an operational fighter wing, following the 11 September 2001 attacks, the Nomads provided armed over-watch throughout North America for Operation Noble Eagle, securing two presidents of the United States, multiple Space Shuttle launches and other high-visibility events. The 33rd Fighter Wing closed its operations with the F-15 Eagle in September 2009 and became the Department of Defense's first F-35 Lightning II training wing on 1 October 2009.

Subordinate organizations[edit]

The wing is composed of two groups, the 33d Operations Group (OG) and 33d Maintenance Group (MXG). The 33 OG operates two flying squadron, the 58th Fighter Squadron and 60th Fighter Squadron, the 33d Operations Support Squadron as well as the 728th and 337th Air Control Squadrons. The 33 MXG commands the 33d Maintenance Operations Squadron, the 33d Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, the 33d Maintenance Squadron.


See 33rd Operations Group for related lineage and history.

Air Defense[edit]

The headquarters of the 33rd Fighter Wing became operational upon movement to Otis Air Force Base, Massachusetts, in mid-November 1948. The wing trained to maintain tactical proficiency and participated in exercises and aerial demonstrations from November 1948 to November 1949. It assumed an air defense mission in December 1949 and provided air defense in the northeastern United States until inactivated in February 1952, when it was inactivated and most personnel were transferred to the 4707th Air Defense Wing. Once again it provided air defense in the northeastern United States, from October 1956 to June 1957, but was non-operational from 1 July 1957 to 18 August 1957.

Tactical fighter operations[edit]

On 1 April 1965, the wing was activated at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida and embarked on a program of tactical training operations to maintain proficiency. It operated a test support division, from July 1965 to December 1967, and a special test squadron, from December 1967 to April 1971, in support of tests for weapon systems, aircraft armament and munitions, and tactical procedures of the Tactical Air Warfare Center. The first Tactical Air Command McDonnell F-4D Phantom IIs assigned to a combat unit arrived at the 33rd at Eglin on 21 June 1966.[2] The wing also provided F-4 replacement training from 15 December 1966 to 28 February 1967. Through deployment of combat-ready tactical components, with personnel and equipment transferred to Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) units upon arrival, the wing provided fresh aircraft and aircrews for the forces in Southeast Asia and in Korea. The wing also transferred two of its combat-ready squadrons to PACAF, the 25th Tactical Fighter Squadron in May 1968 and the 4th Tactical Fighter Squadron in April 1969. The wing's last combat-ready squadron, the 58th Tactical Fighter Squadron, deployed to Southeast Asia for combat operations from April to October 1972 and again from June to September 1973.

The wing supported the 4485th Test Squadron of the Tactical Air Warfare Center in weapon systems evaluation program tests from January to December 1973, and periodically thereafter until July 1978. Aircrews ferried F-4Es to Israel in October 1973. The wing augmented intercept defense forces of the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) from 1 January 1976 to 15 January 1979 and from 4 January 1982 to 5 April 1982. While awaiting delivery of McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagles, the 60th Fighter Squadron conducted F-15 mission qualifications training for the 18th Tactical Fighter Wing (Kadena Air Base, Japan) from 15 July 1979 to 30 April 1980. The wing provided personnel and equipment to fly combat air patrols and air intercept missions for contingency operations in Grenada, from October to November 1983, and Panama, from December 1989 to January 1990.

Recent operations[edit]

An air-to-air view of two U.S. Air Force F-15C Eagle fighter aircraft from the 33rd Tactical Fighter Wing, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, and a Royal Saudi Air Force F-5E Tiger II fighter aircraft during an Operation Desert Storm mission.

During combat operations while deployed in Southwest Asia from 26 August 1990 to 12 April 1991, 33 FW personnel were credited with sixteen air-to-air victories. Wing personnel and aircraft continued rotations to Saudi Arabia to protect coalition assets and to ensure that Iraq complied with treaty terms.

From 1992 to 2002 the 33rd Operations Group continued to deploy aircraft and personnel to Saudi Arabia, Canada, the Caribbean, South America, Jamaica, Iceland, Italy, and Puerto Rico and participated in various operations. Twelve of the 19 airmen killed in the Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia on 25 June 1996 were members of the 33rd Wing.[3]

The 33rd Fighter Wing divested itself of its F-15C and F-15D Eagle aircraft in 2008 and 2009 and completed the transition from Air Combat Command (ACC) to Air Education and Training Command (AETC) on 1 October 2009. At the same time, it became the first American F-35 Lightning II training unit.

On 13 January 2011, the 33rd Fighter Wing received four General Dynamics F-16s from the 56th Fighter Wing at Luke AFB, Arizona. The jets will help establish a "battle rhythm," as the wing stands up the first Joint Training Center for the fifth generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.[4] In July 2011, the wing received its first two F-35A Lightning II aircraft.


  • Established as the 33rd Fighter Wing on 15 October 1947
Organized on 5 November 1947
Redesignated 33rd Fighter-Interceptor Wing on 20 January 1950
Inactivated on 6 February 1952
  • Redesignated 33rd Fighter Wing (Air Defense) on 14 September 1956
Activated on 18 October 1956
Inactivated on 18 August 1957
  • Redesignated 33rd Tactical Fighter Wing and activated on 9 February 1965 (not organized)
Organized on 1 April 1965
  • Redesignated 33rd Fighter Wing on 1 October 1991[1]






  • 33rd Fighter Group (later 33rd Fighter-Interceptor Group, 33rd Fighter Group, 33rd Operations Group): 5 November 1947 – 6 February 1952 (detached until 15 November 1948), 18 October 1956 – 18 August 1957 (detached after 1 July 1957); 1 December 1991 – present[1]



See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Bailey, Carl E. (28 November 2007). "Factsheet 33 Fighter Wing (ACC)". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Retrieved 13 February 2017.
  2. ^ Knaack, p. 274.
  3. ^ Foster, pp. 27–28
  4. ^ Wright, Ashley M. (14 January 2011). "F-16s' arrival brings 'battle rhythm' to JSF wing". 96 Air Base Wing Public Affairs. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 13 February 2017.


Public Domain This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency

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