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33d Fighter Wing
33d Fighter Wing.png
Active 20 November 1940 – present
Country United States
Branch Air Force
Part of Air Education and Training Command
Garrison/HQ Eglin Air Force Base
Motto(s) Fire From the Clouds

Vietnam Service Ribbon.svg Southwest Asia Service ribbon.svg
  • Vietnam Service (1972–1973)
  • Southwest Asia (1990–1991)
Decorations Presidential Unit Citation ribbon.svg DUC
Outstanding Unit ribbon.svg AFOUA
Colonel Andrew J. Toth
Carrol Chandler
John P. Jumper
William R. Looney III
Gregory S. Martin
William W. Momyer

Pre-production F-35 Lightning II

The 33d Fighter Wing (33 FW) is a United States Air Force unit assigned to the 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 U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Navy pilots and maintainers on the F-35 Lightning II. The wing will reach full strength in 2014, with more than 2,000 military personnel and 260 contractors. Annual capacity is planned for 2,150 pilot and maintenance students. A minimum of 59 F-35A, F-35B, and F-35C aircraft supporting Air Force training in the F-35A, Marine training in the F-35B, and Navy and Marine training in the F-35C, as well as international partner training in the various versions of the aircraft.

The 33d Fighter Wing, known as the "Nomads" for its constant travel throughout the world, has a long, distinguished history. The unit was first activated at Roswell Army Air Field, New Mexico on 15 October 1947, but can trace its lineage to the 33d Pursuit Group that served in multiple theaters during World War II. Throughout the years, the wing has participated in numerous operations worldwide. During the Vietnam War the wing deployed eight squadrons of F-4 Phantoms, scoring two aerial victories. Beginning in 1979, the wing began operating the F-15 Eagle. In the 1980s, the unit took part in Operation Urgent Fury, the rescue of American medical students from Grenada, and Operation Just Cause, the campaign to remove Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega. In the 1990s, the wing joined coalition forces for Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, scoring 16 aerial kills, the most of any single unit.

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 33d 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

The wing operates three flying squadrons, the Air Force's 58th Fighter Squadron (58 FS), the Navy's Strike Fighter Squadron 101 (VFA-101) and the Marine Corps' Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 (VMFAT-501), along with the 33d Operations Support Squadron, the 33d Maintenance Operations Squadron, the 33d Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, the 33d Maintenance Squadron and the 728th Air Control Squadron.

33d Operations Group (33 OG)

33d Maintenance Group (33 MXG)

  • 33d Aircraft Maintenance Squadron (33 AMXS)
  • 33d Maintenance Operations Squadron (33 MOS)
  • 33d Maintenance Squadron (33 MXS)


See 33d Operations Group for complete lineage and timeline information.

The headquarters of the 33d 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 November 1948 – 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. Once again it provided air defense in the northeastern United States, October 1956 – June 1957, but was non-operational from 1 July 1957 – 18 August 1957.

In April, the wing 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, July 1965 – December 1967, and a special test squadron, December 1967 – 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 F-4D Phantom IIs assigned to a combat unit arrived at the 33d at Eglin on 21 June 1966.[1] The wing also provided F-4 replacement training from 15 December 1966 – 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–October 1972 and again from June–September 1973.

The wing supported the 4485th Test Squadron of the Tactical Air Warfare Center in weapon systems evaluation program tests from January–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) beginning 1 January 1976 – 15 January 1979 and 4 January 1982 – 5 April 1982. While awaiting delivery of F-15s, the 60 Fighter Squadron conducted F-15 mission qualifications training for 18 July Wing from 15 July 1979 – 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–November 1983, and Panama December 1989 – January 1990.

Modern era

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, Fla., and a Royal Saudi Air Force F-5E Tiger II fighter aircraft during a mission in support of Operation Desert Storm.

During combat operations while deployed in Southwest Asia from 26 August 1990 – 12 April 1991, wing 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 33d 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. The 33 OG lost 13 members in the bombing of Khobar Towers, Saudi Arabia on 25 June 1996.

The 33d 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 33d Fighter Wing received four 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.[2] In July 2011, the wing received its first two F-35A Lightning II aircraft.


  • Established as 33d Fighter Wing on 15 October 1947
Organized on 5 November 1947
Redesignated 33d Fighter-Interceptor Wing on 20 January 1950
Inactivated on 6 February 1952 with personnel and equipment redesignated as: 4707th Air Defense Wing
  • Redesignated 33d Fighter Wing (Air Defense) on 14 September 1956
Activated on 18 October 1956 by redesignation of 4707th Air Defense Wing.
Inactivated on 18 August 1957
  • Redesignated 33d Tactical Fighter Wing, and activated, on 9 February 1965
Organized on 1 April 1965
Redesignated 33d Fighter Wing on 1 October 1991.


Attached to 509th Bombardment Wing, Very Heavy, 17 November 1947 – 15 November 1948
Attached to Eastern Air Defense Force, 10 November 1949 – 31 August 1950
Further attached to 32d Air Division [Defense], 20 February 1950-
Remained attached to 32d Air Division [Defense] to 1 February 1952

Attached to 4622d Air Defense Wing [SAGE], 18 October 1956 – 7 January 1957




  • 50th Fighter (later, 50th Fighter-Interceptor): attached 1 June 1949 – 2 June 1951



Aircraft operated


  1. Knaack, Marcelle Size. Encyclopedia of US Air Force Aircraft and Missile Systems, Volume 1, Post-World War Two Fighters, 1945-1973. Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History, 1978. ISBN 0-912799-59-5, page 274.

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

External links

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