Lakenheath’s Grim Reapers take USAF’s top squadron trophy

48th Fighter Wing Airmen celebrate during the 2016 Raytheon Trophy presentation at the Duxford Imperial War Museum.
USAF photo by Staff Sgt. Emerson Nunez.
48th Fighter Wing Airmen celebrate during the 2016 Raytheon Trophy presentation at the Duxford Imperial War Museum. USAF photo by Staff Sgt. Emerson Nunez.
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RAF Lakenheath’s 493rd Fighter Squadron is officially the USAF’s top fighter squadron.

The coveted Raytheon Trophy was presented to the squadron nicknamed the Grim Reapers during a celebration at the Imperial War Museum Duxford last weekend.

A USAF  F-15C Eagle from the 493rd Fighter Squadron takes off from RAF Lakenheath
Picture USAF/SSgt Emerson Nunez

A USAF F-15C Eagle from the 493rd Fighter Squadron takes off from RAF Lakenheath Picture USAF/SSgt Emerson Nunez

Every year, fighter squadrons across the USAF are judged on their performance including exercise participation, inspection results and squadron and individual achievements.

Col Jason Zumwalt, 493rd FS commander, said: “It is truly an honor for the Grim Reapers to receive this award.

“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.”

The squadron is part of Lakenheath’s 48th Fighter Wing whose commander Col Evan Pettus said: “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.”

“Every day I witness the Grim Reapers pouring their hearts and souls, their sweat and tears into this most sacred of missions.”

In 2016 the squadron had 4,858 flying hours in its F-15Cs, 190 days in 11 allied countries and 146 days of deployed flying operations with 22 allied air forces.

It was the fifth time the 493rd FS has taken the trophy in 10 years.