|71st Flying Training Wing|
|Active||10 August 1948 – present|
|Part of||Air Education and Training Command|
|Garrison/HQ||Vance Air Force Base|
|Colonel Russell L. Mack|
|Lloyd W. Newton|
The 71st Flying Training Wing (71 FTW) is a United States Air Force unit assigned to the Air Education and Training Command Nineteenth Air Force. It is stationed at Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma where it also is the host unit.
The mission of the Wing is threefold: Produce pilots for U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and allied nations as directed. Second, prepare forces to support mobility taskings and deploy when directed. Third, provide support to, and execute mission directives. The 71 FTW is the only Air Force unit to conduct joint specialized undergraduate pilot training for officers of the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force Reserve, Air National Guard and the air forces of several allied countries.
The unit has a long and decorated history. The group's World War II predecessor unit, the 71st Reconnaissance Group operated primarily in the Southwest Pacific Theater flying reconnaissance missions. It was awarded the Philippine Presidential Unit Citation for its role in the liberation of the Philippines during 1944–1945. During the Cold War, the 71st Strategic Reconnaissance Wing (Fighter) was a part of Strategic Air Command. The wing performed strategic reconnaissance and also tested a technique for launching small RBF-84 aircraft from GRB-36 bombers to extend the range of photographic reconnaissance and fighter escort. The testing ended in 1956, but the wing continued strategic reconnaissance until inactivated on 1 July 1957.
- 71st Operations Group (71 OG) (Tail Code: VN)
- The 71 OG conducts joint specialized undergraduate pilot training for over 410 student pilots each year. The group flies more than 55,000 sorties annually, and logs over 81,000 flying hours each year.
- 5th Flying Training Squadron (5 FTS) T-1 Jayhawk
- 8th Flying Training Squadron (8 FTS) T-6A Texan II
- 25th Flying Training Squadron (25 FTS) T/AT-38 Talon
- 32d Flying Training Squadron (32 FTS) T-1 Jayhawk
- 33d Flying Training Squadron (33 FTS) T-6A Texan II
- 71st Operations Support Squadron (71 OSS)
- 71st Mission Support Group (71 MSG)
- 71st Communications Squadron (71 CS)
- 71st Logistics Readiness Squadron (71 LRS)
- 71st Security Forces Squadron (71 SFS)
- 71st Force Support Squadron (71 FSS)
- 71st Medical Group (71 MDG)
- 71st Medical Operations Squadron (71 MDOS)
- 71st Medical Support Squadron (71 MDSS)
Additionally, the 71st Comptroller Squadron (71 CPTS) reports directly to the 71 FTW.
- For additional lineage and history, see 71st Operations Group
The 71st Flying Training Wing's heritage begins on 18 August 1948 when it was activated as the 71st Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, assigned to the Far East Air Forces 1st Air Division at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa. It was assigned RB-17 Flying Fortress and RB-29 Superfortress long range reconnaissance aircraft. With its tactical group detached, the wing had but a single reconnaissance squadron attached from 18–24 Aug 1948 to perform photographic reconnaissance. When it lost the attached squadron, the Wing was not operational, and became attached to the 32d Composite Wing. Budget shortfalls led to its activation on 25 October 1948.
Strategic Air Command
On 4 November 1954, HQ USAF redesignated the wing as the 71st Strategic Reconnaissance Wing (Fighter). Then, on 24 January 1955, the wing was activated, assigned to Fifteenth Air Force, and stationed at Larson AFB, Washington. The wing performed strategic reconnaissance with the RF-84F Thunderflash fighter, primarily with the 92d Bombardment Wing at Fairchild AFB, doubling as an escort squadron with RF-84K variant reconnaissance and nuclear strike fighters
At the time, jet aircraft possessed relatively short range and aerial refueling was not yet proven. The wing's 91st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron (SRS) tested what was known as a "parasite" fighter, with the B-36 carrying the RF-84K. This testing, known as the FICON (FIghter CONveyer) project, called for the recon aircraft or attack fighter to leave the carrier aircraft (a modified GR-36 bomber) upon reaching hostile territory, make a dash to the target and perform its mission. The aircraft then returned to the waiting carrier, hooked up underneath it and was carried back to a base. Beginning in 1952, as the 91st SRS tested two F-84 FICON prototypes, the USAF ordered 25 RF-84Ks and began modifying 10 B-36s into GRB-36 FICON carriers. The RF-84K design was a modification of the RF-84F, the USAF's most numerous and advanced tactical reconnaissance aircraft at the time. The only major differences were the RF-84K's retractable hook in the upper part of the nose, rods on either side behind the cockpit, and downward angled horizontal stabilizers (to fit inside the GRB-36's bomb bay). The RF-84K entered service with the 91st SRS in 1955. For the next year, pilots of the 91st SRS successfully flew their RF-84Ks, but they experienced many near disasters while separating or hooking back up to the GRB-36 carrier aircraft. By 1957, the development of more capable strategic reconnaissance aircraft, along with greater range provided by dependable aerial refueling, made the parasite aircraft concept obsolete. The 91st SRS's RF-84Ks were transferred to other units flying RF-84Fs and thereafter flew conventional missions from runways. The Wing inactivated on 1 July 1957.
- Equipment: RF-84s, RBF-84Fs.
- Changed equipment in 1957 to RF-84s.
Air Defense Command
After a period of inactivation, the 71st Strategic Reconnaissance Wing was redesignated the 71st Surveillance Wing, Ballistic Missile Early Warning System and activated on 6 December 1961. On 1 January 1962, it was organized and assigned to the 9th Aerospace Defense Division, Ent AFB, Colorado. The wing operated and maintained the Ballistic Missile Early Warning System (BMEWS) at Ent, its primary mission being to provide NORAD with Tactical Warning/Attack Assessment (TW/AA) data on all ICBMs and SLBMs penetrating the system's coverage. The secondary mission was to provide NORAD with Launch and Impact (L&I) predictions for attack assessment by NORAD. From its headquarters, it monitored BWEMS sites at Clear AFS, Alaska, RAF Fylingdales, United Kingdom, and Thule AB, Greenland.
On 1 January 1967, HQ USAF re-designated the wing as the 71st Missile Warning Wing. In 1968 it moved to McGuire AFB, New Jersey. There the wing operated the sea-launched ballistic missile detection and warning system to detect Submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) launches, supported the USAF United States Space Surveillance Network (SPACETRACK), and monitored the Over-the-horizon radar (OTH) system until the wing inactivated on 30 April 1971.
Air Training Command
Following a brief period of inactivation, HQ USAF redesignated the wing as the 71st Flying Training Wing on 14 April 1972 . It was assigned to Air Training Command and activated at Vance on 1 November 1972 . At the same time, Air Training Command also activated the 8th and 25th Flying Training Squadrons and assigned them to the wing.
When Air Training Command activated the 71st Flying Training Wing, the wing not only became the host unit at Vance, but it also absorbed the resources of the 3575th Pilot Training Wing, which ATC had discontinued at the same time. The mission of the 71st became providing Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT) for the US Air Force, Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve, and selected foreign allies, using T-37 and T-38 aircraft.
Throughout the early 1990s, the wing underwent several organizational changes. Headquarters Air Training Command directed a significant organizational change in its undergraduate pilot training wings in 1990. The 71st Flying Training Wing reorganized into five flying training squadrons, adding the 5th, 7th and 26th Flying Training Squadrons to the already existing operational squadrons, the 8th and 25th. Air Training Command activated the 7th and 26th Flying Training Squadrons on 19 January 1990 and the 5th Flying Training Squadron on 16 February 1990 . Also on this date, the wing inactivated the 71st Student Squadron, and the 5th gained the responsibility for the ACE program and fixed-wing qualification training. The 7th and 8th squadrons trained students during the T-37 aircraft phase of undergraduate pilot training and the 25th and 26th during the T-38 aircraft phase.
The wing reorganized under the concept of "One Base, One Boss, One Wing," in order to bring all the tools of the base under one commander. This restructure directed that Vance's 71st Air Base Group be redesignated as the 71st Support Group, and the 71st Flying Training Wing Clinic became the 71st Medical Squadron. The reorganization order also directed the activation of the 71st Operations Group, the 71st Operations Support Squadron, and the 71st Logistics Squadron. The 71st Operations Support Squadron replaced the 5th Flying Training Squadron, which HQ ATC had inactivated on the same date.
After an organizational review of the flying training squadrons, ATC consolidated the T-37 squadrons and T-38 squadrons into one squadron per aircraft system at each UPT base. This action was a result of the drastic decrease in pilot production. Vance held ceremonies on 1 October 1992 to inactivate the 7th and 26th Flying Training Squadrons. The 8th and 25th Flying Training Squadrons remained as the T-37 and T-38 flying squadrons.
The ATC, now known as Air Education and Training Command, directed the activation of the 26th Flying Training Squadron (Provisional) on 1 October 1994 as the wing's T-1A squadron. Plans called for the provisional squadron to inactivate and the 26th Flying Training squadron to activate in June 1995. It would provide Phase III tanker-transport training for the specialized undergraduate training program beginning with Class 96-04 in September 1995. The wing received its first T-1A "Jayhawk" on 8 December 1994 . It was used as a maintenance trainer. The 71st estimated it would receive three aircraft per month until it had its total complement of 41. On 1 June 1995, AETC inactivated the 26th (Provisional) and, instead, activated the 32d Flying Training Squadron, a unit with a history more attuned to the current mission.
In 1996, the Air Force increased pilot production because of shortages. A downsizing of the total force plus a high operations tempo was squeezing Air Force resources. Air Force surveys indicated that pilots were leaving the service in increasing numbers because of a high operations tempo, impact of frequent moving on families, and a ready market for their flying skills.
By the year 2000, pilot production at Vance more than doubled from 1996 levels—165 pilots produced in fiscal year 1996 compared to 347 in fiscal year 2000. To increase the span of control for students in the T-37 phase of training, the 33rd Flying Training Squadron was reactivated on 1 October 1998. The wing once again had five flying training squadrons; the 5th FTS, 8th FTS, 25th FTS, 32nd FTS, and 33rd FTS.
- Established as 71 Tactical Reconnaissance Wing on 10 August 1948
- Activated on 18 August 1948
- Inactivated on 25 October 1948
- Redesignated 71 Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, Fighter, on 4 November 1954
- Activated on 24 January 1955
- Inactivated on 1 July 1957
- Redesignated 71 Surveillance Wing (Ballistic Missile Early Warning System), and activated, on 6 December 1961.
- Organized on 1 January 1962
- Redesignated 71 Missile Warning Wing on 1 January 1967
- Inactivated on 30 April 1971
- Redesignated 71 Flying Training Wing on 14 April 1972
- Activated on 1 November 1972
- 1st Air Division, 18 August-25 October 1948
- Attached to 32d Composite Wing, 24 August-25 October 1948
- Fifteenth Air Force, 24 January 1955 – 1 July 1957
- Air Defense Command, 6 December 1961
- 9th Aerospace Defense Division, 1 January 1962
- Fourteenth Aerospace Force, 1 July 1968 – 30 April 1971
- Air Training Command, 1 November 1972
- Nineteenth Air Force, 1 July 1993–present
- 71 Tactical Reconnaissance (later, 71 Operations): 18 August-25 October 1948 (detached); 15 December 1991–present
- 23d Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron: attached 18–24 August 1948
- 25th Strategic Reconnaissance (later, 25 Flying Training) Squadron: 24 January 1955 – 1 July 1957; 1 November 1972 – 15 December 1991
- 82d Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron: 24 January 1955 – 1 July 1957
- 91st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron: 24 January 1955 – 1 July 1957
- 12th Missile Warning Squadron, 1 January 1967 – 30 April 1971 (Thule AB, Greenland)
- 13th Missile Warning Squadron, 1 January 1967 – 30 April 1971 (Clear AFS, Alaska)
- 5th Flying Training Squadron: 16 February 1990 – 15 December 1991
- 7th Flying Training Squadron: 19 January 1990 – 15 December 1991
- 8th Flying Training Squadron: 1 November 1972 – 15 December 1991
- 26th Flying Training Squadron: 19 January 1990 – 15 December 1991
- Kadena AB, Okinawa, 18 August-25 October 1948
- Larson AFB, Washington, 24 January 1955 – 1 July 1957
- Ent AFB, Colorado, 1 January 1962
- McGuire AFB, New Jersey, 21 July 1969 – 30 April 1971
- Vance AFB, Oklahoma, 1 November 1972–present
- Mueller, Robert. Active Air Force Bases Within the United States of America on 17 September 1982 (USAF Reference Series). Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History, 1989. ISBN 0-912799-53-6.
- Ravenstein, Charles A. Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories, 1947–1977. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History, 1984. ISBN 0-912799-12-9.
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