Military Aviation

Coveted Raytheon Trophy awarded to an Air Combat Command F-15E Strike Eagle fighter squadron for the first time

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.

Two US Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles, assigned to the 335th Fighter Squadron, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, sit on the taxiway in front of a US Air Force C-130J Super Hercules, assigned to the 19th Airlift Wing, Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, Nov. 14, 2023, for Exercise Razor Talon 24-1. 

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.”

A US Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle, assigned to the 335th Fighter Squadron, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, flies over Air Force Dare Bombing Range, North Carolina, Nov. 16, 2023, for Exercise Razor Talon 24-1. RT-24 is an agile combat employment focused exercise, designed to test the 4th Fighter Wing’s ability to operate as a lead wing to generate combat airpower while continuing to move, maneuver, sustain the wing and subordinate force elements in a dynamic contested environment.

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.

This print is available in multiple sizes from AircraftProfilePrints.com – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. F-15E Strike Eagle 335th FS, 4th OG, SJ/88-1695 / 2009

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

This model is available to order from AirModels – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS.
Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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