Capt Ben Frankenfield
1st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
As published in the Flyer, 1 July 03
For the second time in seven years, the 27th Fighter Squadron’s “Fightin’ Eagles” proved they are the best in air superiority in the Air Force when officials announced the winner of the 2002 Raytheon Hughes Achievement Award this week.
Started by the Hughes Aircraft Company in 1953 and now sponsored by the Raytheon Systems Corporation, the award is given to the best air superiority squadron in the Air Force.
This is the fifth time a 1st Fighter Wing unit has won the award. The 71st FS has been honored three times including 2001, 1998 and 1993. The 27th also held the trophy in 1995. The predecessor of the 71st Fighter Squadron, the 71st Fighter Interceptor Squadron, at the time part of the Eastern Air Defense Force, also won the award in 1969, making the 71st the only squadron to have won the highly coveted trophy four times.
“The Fightin’ Eagles are very honored to have been awarded the prestigious Raytheon Hughes Achievement Award,” said Lt. Col. Stuart Nichols, the 27th FS commander. “The competition across the combat air forces is extremely competitive, especially from our own 1st Fighter Wing, and we were fortunate to have been selected.”
At the end of 2001, the 27th was busy protecting the skies above America’s cities for Operation Noble Eagle, flying combat air patrols over New York City, Washington D.C., and Camp David. After Noble Eagle and juggling several taskings to courses, evaluations, and exercises throughout the country, the 27th focused on training and upgrading for upcoming deployments in August.
During late August, the 27th divided its resources in three parts. Six jets and 70 people deployed to Iceland for Operation Northern Guardian. Another six jets and 115 people deployed to Turkey to enforce the Northern Iraqi no-fly zone. With two-thirds of the squadron overseas, the rest of the 27th remained here to continue upgrades, train and was subject to a 9th AF Standardization and Evaluation Team staff assistance visit inspection scoring an outstanding rating.
The year ended with the members in Operation Northern Guardian in Iceland returning home Dec. 3 and members at Operation Northern Watch in Turkey returning home Dec. 5 after flying 201 combat sorties and more than 827 combat hours.
Overall, the squadron flew an unprecedented 5,211 sorties and nearly 8,000 flying hours.
Nichols credits the unit’s success to 27th Aircraft Maintenance unit and teamwork throughout the wing.
“This award was garnered because of the incredible effort of the best aircraft maintenance unit in the Air Force,” said Nichols. “Their commitment to excellence was evident in the amazing mission capable rates they achieved throughout the year. They provided the most combat capable aircraft to the best pilots in the world. In addition, every group in the wing provided the “Fightin’ Eagles” with incredible support for our many deployments and daily operations.”
The 27th FS will receive their award today from Raytheon during a dinner in Williamsburg.