16th Airborne Command and Control Squadron

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16th Airborne Command and Control Squadron
E8C J-STARS - RIAT 2004 (2912898158).jpg
Active 1943-1949; 1950-1989; 1996-present
Country  United States
Branch  United States Air Force
Role Airborne Command and Control
Part of Air Combat Command
Garrison/HQ Robins Air Force Base, Georgia
Motto(s) Light the Way
Engagements European Theater of Operations
Vietnam War
Global War on Terrorism[1]
Decorations Presidential Unit Citation
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Combat "V" Device
Air Force Meritorious Unit Award
Air Force Outsanding Unit Award
Belgian Fourragère
Vietnamese Gallantry Cross with Palm[1]
Insignia
16th Airborne Command and Control Squadron emblem (approved 20 October 2016)[1] 16th Airborne Command & Control Sq emblem (2016).png
16th Airborne Command and Control Squadron emblem[2][note 1] 16th Airborne Command and Control Squadron emblem.jpg
16th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron emblem (approved 31 July 1952)[3] 16 Tactical Reconnaissance emblem.png

The 16th Airborne Command and Control Squadron is a unit of Air Combat Command of the United States Air Force, and flies the Northrop Grumman E-8 Joint STARS. Its parent unit is the 461st Air Control Wing, located at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia.

Mission[edit]

The 16th Squadron operates the Northrop Grumman E-8 Joint STARS (Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System), an advanced ground surveillance and battle management system. J-STARS detects, locates, classifies, tracks and targets ground movements on the battlefield, communicating real-time information through secure data links with combat command posts.

History[edit]

World War II[edit]

The squadron was first activated as the 380th Fighter Squadron, part of IV Fighter Command in early 1943, it engaged in the air defense of the San Francisco area as well as acting as a Replacement Training Unit until the end of 1943. It trained as a North American P-51 Mustang operational squadron before deploying to the European Theater of Operations; in Europe it became part of IX Fighter Command in England. Operated both as a tactical fighter squadron, providing air support to Allied ground forces in France as well as an air defense squadron, attacking enemy aircraft in air-to-air combat over Europe.

380th Fighter Squadron P-51 at Azeville Airfield

The squadron was converted to a tactical reconnaissance squadron in August 1944, when it was redesignated the 160th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron. It engaged in hazardous reconnaissance flights over enemy-controlled territory unarmed, gathering intelligence for Allied commanders until the end of combat in Europe, May 1945, the unit advanced eastward across France using advanced landing grounds, then into the Low Countries and Occupied Germany.

The squadron remained in Germany as part of the occupation forces, returning to Langley Field, Virginia in June 1947, the unit remained assigned to Tactical Air Command as a reconnaissance squadron. The squadron was inactivated in 1949.

Cold War[edit]

In 1950 the squadron was activated once again at Langley, now designated the 16th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron.[note 2] It moved to Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina in 1958 where it re-equipped with McDonnell RF-101C Voodoo reconnaissance aircraft, the squadron deployed to south Florida in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis, flying hazardous overflights over Cuba gathering intelligence photos. The unit upgraded to the McDonnell Douglas RF-4C Phantom II in 1965. It also operated a flight of Martin EB-57E Canberra electronic warfare aircraft, it added Douglas EB-66 Destroyer jamming aircraft beginning in 1971 as part of the phaseout of the Destroyer at Shaw. It was the last USAF active duty B-57 squadron, retiring the aircraft in 1976 when F-4G Phantom IIs took over its mission.

RF-4C Phantom II of the 16th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron[note 3]

The 16th remained the single RF-4C squadron at Shaw after the 1982 realignment of its parent 363d from a tactical reconnaissance to tactical fighter wing, it continued reconnaissance training in the United States until 1989 when the RF-4Cs were transferred to 67th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing at Bergstrom Air Force Base, Texas, and the squadron was inactivated.

Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System[edit]

The squadron was reactivated as the 16th Airborne Command and Control Squadron in 1996 at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia as an E-8 J-STARS squadron. In 2002, the J-Stars mission was transferred to the Georgia Air National Guard and the 116th Air Control Wing and the squadron became a Guard unit. Ten years later the mission returned to the regular Air Force, with Georgia Air National Guard associate units joining the mission.[1]

Lineage[edit]

  • Constituted as the 380th Fighter Squadron (Single Engine) on 11 February 1943
Activated on March 1943
Redesignated 160th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron on 25 August 1944
Redesignated 160th Reconnaissance Squadron, Photographic on 29 Ju1y 1946
Redesignated 160th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, Photographic on 14 June 1948
Inactivated on 26 April 1949
  • Redesignated 160th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, Night Photographic on 8 August 1950
Activated on 1 September 1950
Redesignated 16th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, Night Photographic on 10 October 1950
Redesignated 16th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, Night Photographic-Jet on 8 November 1955
Redesignated 16th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, Photographic-Jet on 1 March 1965
Redesignated 16th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron on 8 October 1966
Redesignated 16th Tactical Reconnaissance Training Squadron on 1 October 1979
Redesignated 16th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron on 1 July 1982
Inactivated on 15 December 1989
  • Redesignated 16th Airborne Command and Control Squadron on 15 January 1996
Activated on 1 October 1996
  • Allotted to the Air National Guard on 1 October 2002
  • Withdrawn from the Air National Guard on 1 October 2012 (remained active)[1]

Assignments[edit]

Air echelon attached to 10th Photographic Group, 24 December 1944-6 February 1945

Stations[edit]

Aircraft[edit]

  • Bell P-39 Airacobra, 1943
  • North American P-51 Mustang, 1944–1945, 1946–1947
  • North American F-6 Mustang, 1944–1945, 1946–1947
  • Lockheed FP-80 Shooting Star (later Lockheed RF-80 Shooting Star), 1947–1949
  • Douglas RB-26 Invader, 1950–1955
  • Martin RB-57 Canberra, 1954–1956
  • Douglas RB-66 Destroyer, 1956–1958
  • McDonnell RF-101C Voodoo, 1958–1965
  • McDonnell RF-4C Phantom II, 1965-1989
  • Martin EB-57E Canberra, 1971–1976
  • Northrop Grumman E-8C Joint STARS (1996–present)[1]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

Explanatory notes
  1. ^ This emblem appears on the webpage of the 116th Air Control Wing, which was the squadron's headquarters while it was allotted to the Air National Guard. However, the Air Force Historical Research Agency indicates the 1952 emblem continues as the unit emblem, with a new rendition deleting the aerial camera and flash bomb being made in October 2016. Dollman.
  2. ^ The renumbering was required because the numbers 101-300 were reserved for Air National Guard units (now 101-299). AF Instruction 38-101, para. 5.3.4. When the squadron was allotted to the Air National Guard in 2002, it retained its number outside this block of numbers.
  3. ^ Aircraft is McDonnell RF-4C-34-MC Phantom II, serial 67-436. Note the NATO European camouflage schema, "SW" tail code and low visibility USAF markings, this was one of the last RF-4Cs flown by the 363d Wing before their retirement in 1989.
Citations
  1. ^ a b c d e f g Dollman, TSG David (August 7, 2017). "Factsheet 16 Airborne Command and Control Squadron (ACC)". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Retrieved April 27, 2018. 
  2. ^ "116th Air Control Wing: News: Art". 116th Air Control Wing Public Affairs. Retrieved April 27, 2018. 
  3. ^ Maurer, Combat Squadrons, pp. 359–360
  4. ^ a b c Station number in Anderson.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Station number in Johnson.
  6. ^ Station information in Dollman, except as noted.

Bibliography[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website http://www.afhra.af.mil/.