433 Weapons Squadron

Air-to-air left side view of two US Air Force (USAF) F-15C Eagle aircraft from the Weapons School Division, Nellis AFB, Nevada (NV), flying over “Red Rock Canyon”, NV.

Eagle History

The 433rd Weapons Squadron began providing advanced instructor training to experienced F-15 pilots on 3 January 1978 as the 433rd Fighter Weapons School.  On 1 June 1981, the 433 FWS was deactivated and re-designated as the USAF Fighter Weapons School F-15 Division. On 3 February 2003, the unit was re-designated the 433rd Weapons Squadron.

Despite changes in name, the 433 WPS has held fast to the tradition of producing the world’s greatest air supremacy pilots.  To date, the 433 WPS has graduated 424 F-15C patch wearers who have helped preserve the Eagle’s undefeated record in combat, ensuring U.S. air superiority over the past 30 years.  Twelve F-15C Weapons School graduates have accounted for 18 of the 38 USAF F-15C air-to-air victories.

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — Major Andy “Sparky” Croft, 433rd Weapons Squadron, U.S. Air Force Weapons School, based here, flies over the desert May 30. Croft is participating in USAFWS Mission Employment Exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt Robert W. Valenca)

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Official Air Force news publication;

01/16/2008 – NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — More than two months after a Missouri Air National Guard F-15C broke up in mid-flight, the first F-15 A-D models returned to the air Jan. 9 at Nellis AFB after Air Combat Command commander, Gen. John D. W. Corley, ordered 60 percent of the Air Force’s A-D model’s to return to flying status.

After thorough inspection by the 57th Equipment Maintenance Squadron, Non-Destructive Inspection Lab, 13 of the 25 F-15 A-D model aircraft have been cleared to fly.

The remaining 12 aircraft, which come from various units across the base, will remain grounded until further notice.

The first Nellis pilot in the air was Lt. Col. Gary “Tonka” Rose, 433rd Weapons Squadron (F-15C) director of operations, who took off from the Nellis flightline three minutes after the 6:52 a.m. Las Vegas sunrise.

“Being the first pilot in the air was complete luck of the draw–any of our squadron pilots were qualified to fly the first sortie,” Colonel Rose said.

Squadron sorties were dedicated to regaining landing currency and demanding mission currency, which most pilots lost during the two-month F-15A-D stand down.

Four of the pilots from the 433rd WPS, including Colonel Rose, still had remaining proficiency to fly, so when the green flag was given for the eagles to fly, the WPS pilots returned to the air and conducted basic fighter maneuver engagements.

In these one-on-one sorties, pilots push their aircraft to its limits to defeat an adversary in mock air-to-air combat, said Colonel Rose.

During the grounding, the 433rd WPS was able to graduate six weapons officers from class 07B, but they were unable to complete all portions of the course, including Mission Employment and Dissimilar Air Combat Training.

“To make up for the lost flight-time, The 433rd WPS executed short-notice temporary duty assignments to accomplish large force exercises in the distributed mission operations facilities at both Eglin AFB, Fla., and Langley AFB, Va., as well as completing the academics portion of the course,” “Tonka” continued.

To get through this time using limited resources while still completing the mission, various units are banning together.

“This is one of the most difficult challenges we are facing. Currently we are working with the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron and 65th Aggressor Squadron to combine resources so we may accomplish various, extremely important missions,” he continued.

The 57th Wing maintenance professionals are working hard to keep the limited number of F-15s at Nellis in the air, Colonel Rose said.

Squadron photos

F-15C and F-15E model fighters from the U.S. Air Force Fighter Weapons School, Nellis AFB, Nevada fly in formation over the skies above the ranges north of Nellis after flying a training mission during the extensive course.
An F-15 Eagle from the 433rd Weapons Squadron, Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., takes off for a United States Air Force Weapons School training exercise June 13, 2017.. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Andrew D. Sarver/Released)
A F-15 Eagle from the 433rd Weapons Squadron, Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., takes off during a United States Weapons School training exercise June 8, 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Andrew D. Sarver/Released)
An air-to-air right side view of an F-15 Eagle aircraft from the 57th Tactical Fighter Wing, Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.
433rd Weapons Squadron F-15C taking off Nellis AFB (DoD Photo)
F-15C and F-15E model fighters from the U.S. Air Force Fighter Weapons School, Nellis AFB, Nevada fly in formation over the skies above the ranges north of Nellis after flying a training mission during the extensive course.
NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — An F-15C flies over the desert during a mission on June 2. The Eagle is participating in the U.S. Air Force Weapons Schools Mission Employment Exercise. The exercise is a two-week battle simulation, bringing all the various weapon schools from around the country to Nevada, testing the skills students learned over several months of training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt Robert W. Valenca)

Maj. Aaron Osborne, F-15C pilot, 433 Fighter Weapons School prepares to fly an operational test sortie at Northern Edge 21 carrying an Infrared Search and Track pod, known as the Legion Pod. Approximately 15,000 U.S. service members are participating in a joint training exercise hosted by U.S. Pacific Air Forces May 3-14, 2021,(U.S. Air Force photo by 1st Lt Savanah Bray)