16th Attack Squadron
The mission of the 16th Attack Squadron is to provide tacical air operations designed to destroy enemy forces and installations. Its specific functions include: providing close air support to gound and naval forces; performing tactical air reconnaissance; provides rocket, bomb, gun attacks on enemy forces and installations; and providing deployment of combat ready foces in areas of operaions as required by higher headquarters.
The 16th Attack Squadron, the "Eagles," was first activated in the 1970's during the outbreak of hostilities in Mindanao, which saw government forces and secessionist rebels engaged in a full scale war. The rebels had shown themselves to be alarmingly strong in terms of personnel and firepower.
Confronted by this problem, the military hastily laid down the framework for a tactical unit that would provide the necessary air support mission. On 1 August 1974, the Philippine Air Force witnessed the foundation of its first tactical squadron, the 16th Attack Squadron.
With 52 T-28D aircrafts the squadron performed a wide variety of missions. Of these the unit focused primarily on tactical air strikes. During the late 1970's, the Eagles were participating in large scale joint operations against fortified MNLF Strongholds in Zamboanga Del Norte.
By the mid-1980's, due to dwindling logistics support for the T-28Ds, the 17th and 25th Attack Squadrons were inactivated. Their assets were combined with the 16th Attack Squadron to cope up with reductions in manpower and equipment.
Between 1989 to 1991, the focus of operations for the 16th Attack Squadron shifted to the Country's north, particularly in Marag Valley, where the unit fought against the CCP NPA rebels. There, the Eagles continued to demonstrate their exceptional skills in conducting air strike missions.
By November 1991, the squadron began to receive OV-10A Broncos from the United States. These aircraft were proven to be an effective multi-role anti-insurgency platform. The OV-10s were planned to replace the entire remaining fleet of T-28Ds. A total of 24 OV-10A Broncos were recieved by the PAF by July 1992. In addition to performing air strike missions in support of ground forces, the aircraft were also fitted to provide cloud seeding capability in order to help soften the impact of the El Niño phenomena.
By 2000, the Eagles were again playing a crucial role in the campaign to capture MILF camps in central Mindanao and in pursuit of Abu Sayyaf members in western Mindanao. In August 2003, the first batch of OV-10Cs arrived from Royal Thai Air Force. In addition, a number of the unit's OV-10s were upgraded as part of a program to upgrade the entire fleet.
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