Watch the best US Air Force combat squadron dogfighting like in Top Gun

Maverick and the Goose have nothing on the pilots of the 67th Fighter Squadron—the Fighting Cocks flying out of Kadena Air Base in Japan, who won the Raytheon Trophy for air-to-air excellence. The combat action starts at the 1:40 mark.


The 67th has won the Raytheon Trophy some half dozen times now, making it the most-winning squadron in the entire USAF. This award, formerly known as the Hughes (as in Howard Hughes) is awarded to the top air-superiority and air-defense squadrons each year, has been since 1953. Units are rated on their performance, operational mission performance, organizational readiness inspection results, training exercise participation, unit achievements and awards, individual achievements and awards and unit incentive programs.

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This award, formerly known as the Hughes (as in Howard Hughes) is awarded…

The Hughes Trophy wasn't named after Howard Hughes, it was named after Hughes Aircraft Company, whose Tucson Division (later, Hughes Missile Systems Group… even later Hughes Missile Systems Company, after buying GD's missile division in 1992… now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Raytheon Corporations, since 1997) sponsored the award, beginning in 1953.

HAC's Tuscon Division manufactured the first homing air-to-air missile, the AIM-4 Falcon, beginning in 1952. Hence, Hughes Aircraft had a financial and marketing incentive to encourage Air Force and Air National Guard units to train on how to use their missiles and demonstrate their effectiveness (or in the case of the AIM-4 Falcon, the lack thereof) during the Annual USAF Fighter Gunnery and Weapons Meet, which began in 1952. (The gunnery competition has been known as "William Tell" since 1954.)

(Raytheon, incidentally, manufactures all of the current U.S. air-to-air missiles, including the AIM-9M/X, AIM-120 and legacy AIM-7.)