The Raytheon Trophy dates to 1953 and is awarded annually to the top air superiority or air defense squadron in the U.S. Air Force
On May 13, 2017 the coveted Raytheon Trophy was awarded to the 493rd Fighter Squadron (FS), during a celebration at the Duxford Imperial War Museum, England.
As explained by Senior Airman Malcolm Mayfield, 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs, in the article Reapers receive Raytheon Trophy, every year, fighter squadrons across the U.S. Air Force are judged on their performance across specified mission sets, exercise participation, inspection results, and squadron and individual achievements.
“It is truly an honor for the Grim Reapers to receive this award,” said Col. Jason Zumwalt, 493rd FS commander. “I have never been a part of an ops and maintenance team that works this well together, and I am extremely proud of the Gold Team’s dedication to accomplishing our mission every day.”
During 2016, the 493rd FS provided 4,858 flying hours throughout the various deployments and exercises they led or participated in.
“Air Superiority is the sole and only purpose of the Grim Reapers, and tonight we are here to celebrate the fact that they are the undisputed best in the world at that calling,” said Col. Evan Pettus, 48th Fighter Wing commander.
The squadron displayed teamwork and dedication to the mission during a grand total of 190 days in 11 allied countries, and by executed 146 days of deployed flying operations while integrating with 22 allied air forces.
“Every day I witness the Grim Reapers pouring their hearts and souls, their sweat and tears into this most sacred of missions,” Pettus said. “[They] are truly our nation’s sword and shield, its sentry and avengers.”
This marks the 5th time the 493rd FS has earned this recognition in 10 years.
The 493rd FS, nicknamed “The Grim Reapers”, is part of the United States Air Force’s 48th Fighter Wing located at RAF Lakenheath, England. The 493rd FS is currently the only USAF squadron flying the F-15C Eagle within the U.S. Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) Major Command and has been flying the F-15C since 1994.
Photo credit: Courtesy photo by Ioannis Lekkas/Released and Staff Sgt. Emerson Nuñez/U.S. Air Force