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The first Raytheon Trophy awarded to an F-15E Strike Eagle fighter squadron
Since 1953, the Raytheon Trophy has been awarded annually to the top air-superiority or air-defense squadron in the US Department of the Air Force.
The 335th Fighter Squadron, known as the ‘Chiefs,’ have received the coveted award for 2022. As told by Airman 1st Class Leighton Lucero, 4th Fighter Wing, in the article The ‘Chiefs’ bring the Raytheon Award home to SJAFB, it is the first Raytheon Trophy awarded to an F-15E Strike Eagle fighter squadron in Air Combat Command history. Their exceptional show of force on the world stage, as well as the success of training exercises in fiscal year 2022, set them apart from their peers in a very competitive field of fighter squadrons across the Combat Air Forces.
Leading the Air Force’s largest F-15 Wing
The squadrons are graded on mission performance, exercise performance, organizational readiness inspection results and several other factors. Throughout their deployment, they flew over 1,400 sorties, logged over 4,000 flight hours, dropped over 150 bombs and shot 4 AIM-9Xs. The AIM-9X is called the Sidewinder missile, and it tracks its target with heat seeking capabilities.
Additionally, in calendar year 2022, the ‘Chiefs’ completed 11 temporary duty travels and 29 gold-standard agile combat employment events. They also led the Air Force’s largest F-15 Wing to train 97 Airmen/crew to be combat ready in a single year. Additionally, the ‘Chiefs’ provided defensive counter air throughout the USCENTCOM area of responsibility while simultaneously executing armed overwatch and close air support for 115 friendly positions in theater.
F-15E Strike Eagle fighter squadron
While maintaining air dominance and supporting ground positions in five countries, the ‘Chiefs’, as mission commanders, simultaneously executed President of the United States (POTUS) directed strikes with 18 bombs on nine hostile pivotal infrastructures.
“This award is a huge honor,” said the 335th Fighter Squadron Commander. “There are 48 other multi-role fighter squadrons in the United States Air Force and the Chiefs were the first unit on SJAFB to win it. The ‘Chiefs’ utilize F-15E Strike Eagles, making us one of three total F-15 squadrons to ever win the award.”
Excelling above the rest
Out of all the fighter squadrons in the force, the ‘Chiefs’ maintainers, pilots and WSOs excelled above the rest. Their diligence, determination and lethality enabled them to accomplish various missions.
“Winning this award shows that the 4th Fighter Wing is still a very lethal and credible wing,” said the 335th Fighter Squadron Commander. “The 335th FS definitely demonstrated their capabilities down range. The camaraderie they show for being chosen as the top air-dominance squadron in the U.S. Air Force, in 2022, gives us a lot of pride. It is a huge accomplishment for Team Seymour and the Chiefs!”
The Raytheon Trophy
The Raytheon Trophy, formerly known as the Hughes Trophy is awarded for outstanding performance to an Air Force or Air National Guard fighter unit with a mission in air defense or air superiority.
Every year, fighter squadrons across the Air Force are judged on their performance across specified mission sets, exercise participation, inspection results, and squadron and individual achievements.
The 335th Fighter Squadron
The 335th FS was the second fighter squadron in the US Air Force (USAF) to receive the F-15E when on Mar. 1, 1990 the final F-4 and first Strike Eagle sortie were flown.
On Dec. 27-28, 1990, the 335th deployed twenty-four F-15Es along with support personnel and equipment to Al Kharj Air Base in central Saudi Arabia. On the night of Jan. 16, 1991 the Chiefs participated in the initial assault on Iraq, hitting communications, power networks, and airfields around Baghdad. Given the mission of finding and destroying Iraq’s SCUD missile launchers, the 335th brought Iraq’s use of this terror weapon to a virtual halt, earning the squadron the nickname “SCUD BUSTERS.” The 335th made aerial warfare history by downing an Iraqi helicopter in the air using a laser-guided bomb. During the war, the Chiefs flew 1,097 combat missions over Iraq and occupied Kuwait, dropping over 4.8 million pounds of ordnance.
Photo credit: Staff Sgt. Devin M. Rumbaugh / U.S. Air Force