179th Fighter Squadron Wins Raytheon Trophy

Two F-16C Fighting Falcons of the 148th Fighter Wing, Duluth, Minn. prepare for take off next to an F22 Raptor on March 3rd, 2008 during a recent deployment to Elmendorf AFB, Alaska.  While deployed, the 148th was the first non-Alaskan or Canadian unit to support Alaska Command (ANR) alert and the first F-16 unit to intercept Russian bombers, also knows as "Bears". (U.S. Air Force photo by Lt. Col. Kevin Peterson)  (Released)

Two F-16C Fighting Falcons of the 148th Fighter Wing, Duluth, Minn. prepare for take off next to an F22 Raptor on March 3rd, 2008 during a recent deployment to Elmendorf AFB, Alaska. While deployed, the 148th was the first non-Alaskan or Canadian unit to support Alaska Command (ANR) alert and the first F-16 unit to intercept Russian bombers, also knows as "Bears". (U.S. Air Force photo by Lt. Col. Kevin Peterson) (Released)

Two F-16C Fighting Falcons of the 148th Fighter Wing, Duluth, Minn. Air National Guard Base, taxi to the runway at the Minneapolis International Airport, Minn. Sept. 5, 2009.  The 148th performed Air Sovereignty Alert missions for the Republican National Convention from both Duluth and Minneapolis. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jason W. Rolfe)

Two F-16C Fighting Falcons of the 148th Fighter Wing, Duluth, Minn. Air National Guard Base, taxi to the runway at the Minneapolis International Airport, Minn. Sept. 5, 2009. The 148th performed Air Sovereignty Alert missions for the Republican National Convention from both Duluth and Minneapolis. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jason W. Rolfe)

A four ship F-16 Fighting Falcon formation flies through the sky on a mission in northern Minnesota on Nov. 17, 2007.  The F-16's, from the 148th Fighter Wing of the Minnesota Air National Guard in Duluth, were practicing mid-air refueling from a KC-135 Stratotanker in order to fulfill training requirements.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Brett R. Ewald)  (Released)

A four ship F-16 Fighting Falcon formation flies through the sky on a mission in northern Minnesota on Nov. 17, 2007. The F-16's, from the 148th Fighter Wing of the Minnesota Air National Guard in Duluth, were practicing mid-air refueling from a KC-135 Stratotanker in order to fulfill training requirements. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Brett R. Ewald) (Released)

Maj. Curt Grayson fills out paperwork shortly after landing at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, Dec. 10. Grayson's home unit, the Minnesota Air National Guard's 179th Fighter Squadron, will carry the 332nd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron designation while deployed. Grayson, an F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, is a native of Esco, Minn. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Erik Gudmundson)

Maj. Curt Grayson fills out paperwork shortly after landing at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, Dec. 10. Grayson's home unit, the Minnesota Air National Guard's 179th Fighter Squadron, will carry the 332nd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron designation while deployed. Grayson, an F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, is a native of Esco, Minn. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Erik Gudmundson)

A 148th Fighter Wing Airman makes repairs to an F-16 Fighting Falcon during an Operational Readiness Inspection Oct. 13 at the Minnesota Air National Guard Base located in Duluth, Minn. The ORI is designed to evaluate the wing's ability to prepare and deploy servicemembers, equipment and support assets to a combat environment. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Donald Acton)

A 148th Fighter Wing Airman makes repairs to an F-16 Fighting Falcon during an Operational Readiness Inspection Oct. 13 at the Minnesota Air National Guard Base located in Duluth, Minn. The ORI is designed to evaluate the wing's ability to prepare and deploy servicemembers, equipment and support assets to a combat environment. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Donald Acton)

DULUTH, Minn. -- Chief of Staff of the Air Force, General Norton Schwartz recently announced that the 179th Fighter Squadron is the recipient of the 2008 Raytheon Trophy for its accomplishments in Fiscal Year 2008. The 179th Fighter Squadron is attached to the 148th Fighter Wing; a Minnesota-based Air National Guard Wing.

The Raytheon Trophy, formerly known as the Hughes Trophy is awarded for outstanding performance to an Air Force or Air National Guard fighter unit with a mission in air defense or air superiority. Units are judged on performance in the air defense or air superiority mission, exercise participation, inspection results, squadron and/or individual accomplishments.

In addition to an "Excellent" Phase I Operational Readiness Inspection and "Mission Ready" Alert Force Evaluation rating, the 148th deployed in support of Operation NOBLE EAGLE and IRAQI FREEDOM. After the Air Force grounded its F-15 fleet, the 148th quickly deployed jets and personnel to Hickam Air Force Base to perform Air Sovereignty Alert for nearly three months. A week after returning from Hickam, the 148th deployed jets and personnel to Elmendorf Air Force Base to perform Alert for another five-weeks. While at Elmendorf, the 148th was the first F-16 unit to intercept a Russian "Bear" Bomber off the coast of Alaska. The 148th performed Alert from both Minneapolis and Duluth during the Republican National Convention where they executed two active scrambles, three air patrols and prosecuted five temporary flight restriction violations. The 148th completed the year by deploying to Joint Base Balad, Iraq for a third time since 2005.

This is only the fourth time an Air National Guard unit has received the award and only the second time an F-16 unit has received the award since its inception in 1953. 179th Fighter Squadron Commander, Lt. Col Eric Chandler said "It's awesome for the Bulldogs to get recognition for the hard work they did in 2008. All our people make it look easy, but it isn't. They deserve this kind of award."

148th Fighter Wing Commander, Col. Frank Stokes stated that "This award is especially important to our Wing because it validates the intense effort we have put forth over the last several years: the many times we have answered calls from ANG, ACC, and the Air Force; packed up and deployed on short notice; and accomplished the mission in a professional, efficient manner. We have answered those calls repeatedly, and often returned to take an inspection or deploy to the AEF, and then immediately fulfilled another short notice request. We have done all this without complaining, and in a manner that often left the operation in better shape than when we came. The Bulldogs should feel good that our efforts were not lost on our Nation's Leadership - they have now rewarded us for them."

The Raytheon Trophy will be presented at a later date. No details on the event are yet available.