“They should just call it the Liberty Trophy from here on out,” 48th Fighter Wing Commander Col. William Marshall.
The 493rd Fighter Squadron was awarded the 2019 Raytheon Trophy for the US Air Force’s top air superiority squadron, the fourth win in a row for the 48th Fighter Wing at RAF Lakenheath, England.
According to Air Force Magazine, the squadron received the award based on its operations in 2019, which included a short-notice rapid deployment for combat operations in the Middle East and multiple high-profile training exercises.
“They should just call it the Liberty Trophy from here on out,” 48th Fighter Wing Commander Col. William Marshall said in announcing the win. “Great work by the team last year—good to see it recognized.”
In early 2019, to fill the air superiority role vacated by F-22s that returned home in an effort to increase the Raptor fleet’s readiness, the unit’s F-15Cs deployed with two weeks notice to the Middle East for Operation Inherent Resolve.
The deployment was so abrupt the squadron conducted a planned change of command ceremony during a combat mission, as opposed to in a hangar at the home base.
More recently, the wing is flying decreased flying hours amid the new coronavirus outbreak.
Last year, the 493rd’s sister squadron, the 494th Fighter Squadron, received the Raytheon trophy.
The F-15C is a twin-engine, high-performance, all-weather air superiority fighter known for its incredible acceleration and maneuverability. With a top speed in excess of Mach 2.5 (more than 1,600 mph or 2575 kph), it was the first US fighter with enough thrust to accelerate vertically. The F-15 carries a large complement of missiles — including AIM-9 Sidewinders, AIM-7 Sparrows and AIM-120 AMRAAMs.
US F-15Cs participated in Operation Desert Storm in 1991 where they downed 32 of 36 USAF air-to-air victories. F-15Cs also served in Bosnia in 1994 and downed Serbian MiG-29 fighters in Operation Allied Force in 1999. They enforced no-fly zones over Iraq in the 1990s.
Photo credit: U.S. Air Force