|Active||14 September 1939 to present|
|Branch||South African Air Force|
|Role||Attack Helicopter Squadron|
|Equipment||Denel AH-2 Rooivalk|
|Engagements||Madagascar 1942, East Africa 1941 and 1943, Egypt 1943-45, SWA/Angola 1979-89|
|16 Sqn badge|
16 Squadron SAAF is an attack helicopter squadron of the South African Air Force (SAAF). It was originally formed in World War II as a maritime patrol squadron, however, over the course of the war it was disbanded and reformed a number of times, operating a number of different types of aircraft. It was finally disbanded in June 1945 and was not re-raised until 1968 as a helicopter squadron. In the late 1980s the squadron took part in the conflict in Angola before being disbanded again in 1990. It was raised once more in 1999 and it is currently operating the Rooivalk attack helicopter.
The squadron was formed on 18 September 1939 as a Coastal Command squadron based at Walvis Bay (station), equipped with three ex-South African Airways Junkers Ju 86Z aircraft in the role of a maritime patrol squadron. However, it was short-lived, and by December of that year it had become B Flight of 32 Squadron.
The third chapter of the squadron's WWII history began when 20 Squadron, equipped with Martin Maryland and Bristol Beaufort aircraft and taking part in the invasion of Madagascar, was renumbered. Following the successful invasion of Madagascar, the squadron moved to Kenya, where it was equipped with the Bristol Blenheim V for use in the maritime patrol role, thus returning to its original purpose.
It would be 23 years before the squadron was once again re-formed, this time at AFB Ysterplaat on 1 February 1968, and equipped with the Aérospatiale Alouette III. A year later it moved to AFB Durban, though did not stay long, and finally moved to AFB Bloemspruit during 1972. The squadron's A Flight was transferred to AFS Port Elizabeth in 1973, with its B Flight moving first to AFB Ysterplaat, and then to AFS Port Elizabeth in 1980 to join A Flight.
In 1986, the squadron received an additional type, the Aérospatiale Puma. Throughout this period the squadron played a vital role in the South-West Africa/Angola Border War, and following the cessation of hostilities was disbanded in October 1990.
The latest chapter in 16 Squadron's history began on 28 October 1999 when it was reformed at AFB Bloemspruit and equipped with the new Denel AH-2 Rooivalk attack helicopter, receiving all 12 ordered. Due to the complexities of integrating a new type and the creation and modification of tactics for the use of the SAAF's first attack helicopter, the squadron was only expected to reach complete operational readiness in 2008. It is however still a functioning squadron, and regularly carries out joint exercises with the South African Army and other elements of the Air Force.
Previous Aircraft Operated
- Junkers Ju 86Z
- Martin Maryland
- Bristol Beaufort
- Bristol Blenheim V
- Bristol Beaufighter
- Aérospatiale Alouette III
- Aérospatiale Puma
Notes and References
- Ambrose Brown. (1970), p.26
- Ambrose Brown. (1970), p.245
- Ambrose-Brown, James (1970). A Gathering of Eagles: South African Forces World War II: Vol II. Cape Town: Purnell.
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