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Air Force names top fighter squadron

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Maeson L. Elleman
  • 18th Wing Public Affairs
On Feb. 16, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz announced that Kadena's 67th Fighter Squadron earned the Raytheon Trophy for 2011.

The annual award, originally started by the Hughes Aircraft Company in 1953, is now sponsored by Raytheon Systems Corporation and is given to the top air superiority or air defense squadron in the Air Force.

"The 67th Fighter Squadron clearly displayed its superior ability to dominate the sky anywhere in the world," Schwartz said. "My congratulations to the men and women of the 67th Fighter Squadron."

The Raytheon Trophy is the most prestigious award that can be bestowed upon any fighter squadron, said Lt. Col. Robert Cioppa, the 67th Fighter Squadron commander.

"Based on our competition, I feel extremely fortunate and honored the 67th FS was selected above all the truly outstanding squadrons in the Combat Air Forces," Cioppa said.

In the past, he said, only fighter intercept units could compete for the trophy, but in 1970 the challenge was opened to any squadron performing air defense as their primary mission, including the Air National Guard as well as the active duty Air Force.

Units are graded on air defense and air superiority mission performance; operational mission performance; organizational readiness inspection results; training exercise participation; unit achievements and awards; individual achievements and awards; and unit incentive programs.

Cioppa said the praise for the award should be given to the Airmen from the squadron and aircraft maintenance unit.

"The credit for this award truly belongs with the men and women of the 67th FS and AMU," he said. "In my career, I have never seen any fighter squadron endure the operations tempo the 67th FS had in 2011. We answered the call on two short-notice, real-world deployments, deployed aircraft and personnel to three different continents and ten different countries while supporting multiple joint and international exercises. When (U.S. Central Command) called for air superiority, the 67th FS and AMU were in place and stood up operations within three weeks.

"In my opinion, the U.S. Air Force has never had a finer or more expeditionary fighter squadron than the 67th Fighter Squadron Fighting Cocks," he added. "I am pleased all their hard work, outstanding performance and sacrifices in 2011 didn't go unnoticed by our senior Air Force (leaders)."

As a power projection platform for the Pacific Air Forces, Cioppa said winning the trophy further proves the squadron's significance in today's Air Force, but also said it couldn't have been won without the Airmen's unwavering dedication to the mission.

"Winning the Raytheon Trophy recognizes the 18th Wing as PACAF's and the U.S. Air Force's most essential asset for airpower projection," he said. "This award recognizes the intense work, diligent efforts and professionalism of not only the 67th, but also the supporting organizations vital to accomplishing our mission. We could not have won this award without the extraordinary teamwork between operations, maintenance and support functions."

Schwartz said the competition this year was keen, with the 493rd Fighter Squadron, from Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, and the 77th Fighter Squadron, from Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., also competing.

"Each nominated squadron demonstrated the best our Air Force has to offer, and I am proud of all of their accomplishments," he said.