33rd Operations Group


Col. Ryan “Scar” Thulin


Forge future combat airpower


Building the foundation to win!

Personnel and Resources

The 33rd Operations Group mission is accomplished by over 300 assigned active duty, reserve, guard, government civilian and contract personnel. Annually, the 33rd OG trains an average of 24-48 F-35A pilots, 172 intelligence personnel in support of Air Force Special Operations Command, 85 intelligence personnel in support of F-35 operations across the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, and U.S. Marines, and 192 Air Battle Managers. With the recent reactivation of the 60th Fighter Squadron, the 33rd OG is building towards 53 assigned F-35A aircraft. The 33rd Operations Support Squadron maintains intelligence training facilities at Eglin AFB and Hurlburt AFB, Florida. The 337th Air Control Squadron, Tyndall Air AFB, Florida, maintains the sole Air Force Air Battle Manager training, and regularly integrates with F-35A, F-22A Raptor, T-38, F-16 Fighting Falcon, and Dassault Mirage F-1 aircraft over the Gulf of Mexico as part of the ABM training syllabus, as well as in support of the F-35A and F-22A pilot training syllabi.


The group was first activated in January 1941 as the 33rd Pursuit Group and began training in fighter operations at Mitchel Field, New York. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, the group moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where it assumed an air defense role while training for combat. After being re-designated the 33rd Fighter Group, it moved to the Mediterranean Theater of Operations in November 1942 as part of OPERATION TORCH, the invasion of North Africa, flying its planes to its first base in Morocco from the aircraft carrier USS Chenango of the U.S. Navy. The group served in North Africa and Italy until February 1944, earning a Distinguished Unit Citation in January 1943 for its defense of its base from attacks by German and Italian aircraft.

In 1944, the group departed Italy for the China-Burma-India Theater, leaving its Curtiss P-40 Warhawks behind for Lockheed P-38 Lightnings and Republic P-47 Thunderbolts. It continued combat operations until the surrender of Japan. In November 1945, it returned to the United States and was inactivated.

The group was activated as part of the Occupation Forces at Neubiberg Air Base, Germany, where it took over the personnel and equipment of the 357th Fighter Group, which was inactivated and transferred to the National Guard. In July 1947, its personnel became the cadre for the 86th Composite Group, while the group made two moves without personnel or equipment before arriving at Roswell Army Air Field, New Mexico, where it equipped with North American P-51 Mustangs and became part of the fledgling Strategic Air Command. A year later, it received its first jet aircraft, the Republic F-84 Thunderjet. In 1948, the group moved to Otis AFB, Massachusetts, where it assumed an air defense role, first under Continental Air Command, then under Air Defense Command as the 33rd Fighter-Interceptor Group. It was inactivated in February 1952.

Air Defense Command activated the group, once more the 33rd Fighter Group, at Otis AFB in August 1955 as part of Project Arrow, a program to replace ADC's Air Defense Groups with fighter groups with distinguished combat records in World War II. As Otis AFB expanded to add the airborne early warning and control mission the following year, the group's support units were transferred to the newly reactivated 33rd Fighter Wing. In 1957, the group and wing were inactivated and the group's flying squadrons were transferred to the Boston Air Defense Sector.

As the U.S. Air Force implemented the Objective Wing reorganization in 1991, the 33rd, now designated the 33rd Operations Group, was activated to command the 33d Fighter Wing's operational units and was equipped with the McDonnell Douglas F-15C Eagle. The group saw its Eagles deploy in support of the first Gulf War where they tallied multiple aerial victories. Once again, the group’s Eagle deployed to the Middle East to provide air superiority in support of OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM. The 33rd OG retired its Eagles in 2009 when it began the transition to the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter.

Supported Organizations

58th Fighter Squadron “Mighty Gorillas” & 60th Fighter Squadron “Fighting Crows”

The 58th and 60th Fighter Squadrons are F-35A Lightning II training units under the 33rd OG that plan and execute a training curriculum in support of U.S. Air Force training requirements. The 58th FS took possession of its first F-35A in 2011. The 60th FS, the second training squadron, was reactivated in August 2021, and received its first F-35A the same year. Both units’ mission is to train officers to fly the F-35A before being sent to operational combat units. In addition, both squadrons train and develop instructors to add to their own cadre.

337th Air Control Squadron “The Doghouse”

Based at Tyndall AFB, Florida, the 337th ACS trains officers to become Air Battle Managers. Graduates move on to support the Combat Air Forces in either an airborne roll such as on the E-3 AWACS or in one of the many USAF Control and Reporting Centers.

33rd Operations Support Squadron “Jokers”

In addition to supporting flying operations for the 58th FS and 60th FS, the 33rd OSS trains officers and enlisted personnel to be intelligence professionals for both F-35 and Air Force Special Operations Command units. Airmen, Sailors, and Marines attend the intelligence course at Eglin AFB before moving on to F-35 combat units in their respective services. The 33rd OSS maintains a detachment at Hurlburt Field where it accomplishes tailored intelligence training for personnel who, upon graduation, will go on to support AFSOC units.


The 33rd Operations Group, part of the 33rd Fighter Wing, is a premier training organization dedicated to the education, training and development of F-35A pilots, Air Battle Managers, and F-35 and Special Operations intelligence professionals. As the USAF continues to procure F-35A’s, the 33rd OG’s mission becomes more and more important as it is only one of two locations whose mission is to produce combat pilots to fly the F-35A Lightning II. Similarly, the group is the only unit who produces Air Battle Managers, and AFSOC and F-35 intelligence professionals. Across the spectrum, the 33rd OG tailors its training to meet emerging, near-peer threats head-on in support of the National Defense Strategy.

Current as of May 2024