PACAF selects Misawa's 14th FS in race for Raytheon Trophy
MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- Their wing is known as the "Wild Weasels," it's the home of the Samurai, and, for 2015, it's been selected as Pacific Air Forces' top fighter squadron.
The 14th Fighter Squadron demonstrated superior performance in active air-defense operations with an outstanding intercept training success rate, aircraft ready rate, and flying safety rate, as they move forward to the Air Force-level of the competition with all eyes on the prestigious 2015 Raytheon Trophy.
The Raytheon Trophy has been awarded annually since 1953 and is given to the top air-superiority and air-defense squadron in the Air Force. Nominees are graded on air-defense and air-superiority mission performance, operational mission performance, organizational readiness inspection results, training exercise participation, unit and individual achievements, and awards. Initially, only fighter intercept units could participate, but in 1970 the competition was opened to any squadron performing air defense as their primary mission.
"I'm tremendously impressed by our accomplishments over the past year," said Lt. Col. Mark Heusinkveld, the 14th FS commander. "If we win this trophy, it won't be a fighter squadron victory; it'll be thanks to every single Airman who has supported our mission over the past year."
Since entering service, the F-15 Eagle has won nearly every year. Heusinkveld said he hopes the Samurai's F-16 Fighting Falcons take home this year's trophy.
The colonel added it takes more than pilots, however, to win an award, attributing their selection to the hundreds of other service members across the installation, from security forces and services to maintenance and medical support.
"This is a team nomination," he said. "And it will be a team win."
Lt. Gen. John Dolan, the commander of U.S. Forces Japan and 5th Air Force, visited Misawa AB Jan. 5, to present several air medals and personally announce and congratulate the 14th FS as PACAF's selection to represent the entire major command, spanning nine bases and dozens of other fighter squadrons across the U.S. Pacific Command area of responsibility.
"I'm extremely proud the 14th FS will represent not only Misawa Air Base, but all of PACAF as our nominee for the 2015 Raytheon Trophy," Dolan said.
The 14th FS flew more than 9,000 combat hours, supporting 100 percent of Air Tasking Orders for 177 continuous days during a six-month U.S. Central Command deployment. Additionally, the Samurais participated in multiple exercises, such as Cope North-Guam and Operation Keen Sword, enhancing the air-to-air capability of U.S. partner nations and ensuring high proficiency as one of only two dedicated Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses units in PACAF.
"The unparalleled airpower production rate of the 14th FS made them the asset of choice for short-notice strike taskings from the Combined Air Operations Center and their absolute dedication to the mission and lethality on the battlefield makes the 14th FS my hands-down top nomine for this year's Raytheon Trophy," added Dolan.