NATO Tiger Meet
 by J. Barata

Click on thumbnails to enlarge images 

  Since the late fourties, mostly until the sixties, corresponding to the Cold War, the relation between USSR and USA deteriorated so much that an open war was eminent.
  According to this setting the Fench Minister, M. Pierre Messner, stressed the importance of greater French-American cooperation.
  With this in mind, the American pilots from the 79 TFS (Woodbridge) and the British from the 74 SQN (Coltishall), who had already meet the year before, decided to invite one unit from the FAF, the Escadron de Chasse 1/12 from Cambrai for a first squadron meeting.
  On June 19th 1961, these three Squadrons held a meeting at Woodbridge, England and the common symbol and spirit came up for the first time - the Tiger.
  The TIGER MEET was born in an international NATO frame work, and in spite of a modest first TIGER MEET, just a one-day meeting, the programme included operational flights with F-100D, F.1 Lightning and Super Mystere B2, intercept missions, solo demonstrations and a final "FLY-BY".
  At the social dinner-party, squadron badges and gifts were exchanged and ambitious plans were maid to maintain and even further expand these successful meetings in the future.
  Thereafter, with the efforts of 79 TFS (USAF), organizing the 2nd TIGER MEET, eight new squadrons were contacted and brought together at Woodbridge, belonging to three more NATO countries: Belgium, Germany and Canada.
  The objectives established for 1962 NTM were kept through the years and still remain valid today:
   - Promote NATO solidarity
   - Achieve and maintain strong ties, not only on professional field but also in personal relationship, among NATO personnel
   - Increase a better understanding of NATO military objectives within NATO nations
  This meeting had a very special guest of honour, USAF General S. E. Anderson, Shape Air Deputy, who, supporting the initiative, reminded us of the meaning and importance of good relationship between Air Forces of Allied Countries.
  We could say this was the birth of the TIGER MEET as a unique exercise and, perhaps because of that, it went on taking place through years all over Europe.
  Getting to our days with deep roots, strengthened by the friendship of several allied members, the TIGER MEET is perhaps one of the most important and large NATO exercises not only because of the large number of air units and men involved, but also because of the excellent learning experience in both professional and social events.
  Inspite of operational limitations and some organizing difficulties, the participation of the squadrons evolved to a healthy competition.
  This dynamism comes from the aircraft involved, sometimes similar, but having pilots from different countries, and also due to the normal facing of individuals from different cultures and customs.
  The host squadrons always do their best to have a programme has best as possible, not only flyingwise, but also in the social events, in order to make possible high professional standards and instilling Tiger Spirit among the participants.
  The flying competition events are normally divided in low level navigation and air to ground gunnery, but since not every squadron is able to participate, only those who do, are given marks.
  However, all combined air activity, in which all squadrons participate, is given a high number of marks and count for the final score.
  On the ground we have got the Tiger Games, where the skill of the participants is stimulated. From the minigun competition to the Rallye Paper everything is good enough to get a few marks.
  To reward the host squadron and the winners of each Meet, there are two trophies given out yearly:
   - One is the "Shape Air Deputy Award", established in 1966 by General M. Lee for the contribution of the host squadron in the consolidation of the Tiger and the     Atlantic Alliance goals. It's a silver Wild Tiger and the host squadron will keep it for one year after the meet
   - The other trophy, known as "Silver Tiger" is an annual prize given to the squadron that maintains the highest degree of professionalism and demonstrates the Tiger Spirit during the Meet, both on formal and informal competitions
  This award was offered by Mappin & Weeb Company in 1977 when the TIGER MEET was held in Greenham Common, England at the same time as the "Silver Jubille International Air Tatoo".
  During all these years, the starting goals proposed in 1962 were achieved in spite of some problems that were solved due to Air Forces and squadrons' goodwill. Beginning as just a three-squadron meeting, nowadays it has spread to more than twenty squadrons, representing almost as many countries, that have decided to preserve the free world interests independently of its cost.
F-16AM - Belgium
This is the F-16AM of 31ste Smaldeel / Escadre of the Luchtcomponent / Composante Aérienne of the Belgian Armed Forces based at Kleine Brogel.
F-16AM - Belgium
This is the port side of the fin.
F-16AM - Belgium
This is the starboard side of the fin.
Unit History
  As part of the 10th Fighter Bomber Wing, 31st Squadron was formed at Chièvres Air Base together with 23rd and 27th Squadrons. The early days of the Squadron saw many problems due to the lack of aircraft and qualified personnel. Therefore, the first sortie was not flown before 4 January 1952 on the old, obiquitous World War II Spitfire Mk XIV. The last Spitfire mission was in July 1952, so once again the Squadron found itself without aircraft.
  At that time pilots and personnel were detached to the 23rd and 27th Squadrons without administratively disbanding the unit. It soon converted to the Republic F-84G Thunderjet in October 1953, although the Squadron had already been training in the Loockheed T-33 for almost two months. It now worked as a tactical as well as an instrument flight training unit. The Squadron moved to different bases, being permanently assigned to Kleine Brogel Air Base in February 1955.
  31st Squadron continued to utilize the Republic F-84F Thunderstreak on operational missions after 1956.
  For the folllowing seven years 37,000 flying hours were logged inthis aircraft. It was during this period that the Squadron was assigned to Ace Mobile Force. Through many succesful deployments, moves and mobility exercises extending even to the North Cape, the Squadron achieved respect commensurate with its Tiger patch. The Belgian Tigers started operating the Lockheed F-104G Starfighter in March 1964. Similar to many other Starfighter units, they were assigned to NATO's fighter bomber strike role and were ready to go into action should circumstances dictate to do so. The last flight on the F-104G took place in March 1983.
  One year earlier, the F-16 had arrived at Kleine Brogel.
The conversion started in November 1982 and was terminated in August 1983. In 1991 they painted an F-16 with the Tiger colors for the Squadron's 40th Anniversary.
  31st Squadron has been involved since December 1996 in the peace-supporting mission "Decisive Endeavour" and in 1998 and 1999 participated in both offensive and defensive missions over Kosovo and Serbia during  "Operation Allied Force".
  In 2001, 31st Squadron finally started its conversion onto F-16 MLU. This year also saw the 50th Anniversary of the Squadron.
  On 2 January 2002, 31st Squadron merged with its sister-unit 23 Squadron.
  31st Squadron was the 4th member in 1962 to enter the Tiger Club.
The European F-16s that went through the MLU are designated F-16AM or F-16BM.
2002 was a year of radical changes for the Belgian Armed Forces. On January 1, the four services were placed under a single joint command structure. Under the Strategic Modernisation Plan approved by the Belgian Government in May 2000, a new defence staff was created.
The Air Force has now become the "air component" of the Armed Forces, having lost the independence it gained in October 1946 and the designations "Force Aérienne" and "Luchtmacht", adopted in 1947. But the notion of an "air force" has been retained for those personnel wearing the traditional grey-blue uniform.
Despite the restructuring, most units have been preserved, apart from three logistical wings located in Brussels.
Smaldeel (in Dutch) / Escadre (in French) - Squadron
Luchtcomponent (in Dutch) / Composante Aérienne (in French) - Air Component
MLU - Mid Life Update
Luchtmacht (in Dutch) / Force Aérienne (in French) - Air Force
Tornado IDS - Germany
This is the Tornado IDS of Aufklärungsgeschwader 51 of the Luftwaffe based at Schleswig-Jagel.
This aircraft carries a reconnaissance pod on the centerline.
Tornado IDS - Germany
Port side of the fin. The starboard side had the same artwork.
Tornado IDS - Germany
"White Tiger" it's the name of the color scheme. This artwork and the words "White Tiger" were also on the starboard side, with the lady looking forward.
Tornado IDS - Germany
Artwork bellow the codes. Only on port side.
Unit History
  The Aufklärungsgeschwader 51 "Immelmann" Tiger heritage was tranferred from Aufklärungsgeschwader 52.
  Aufklärungsgeschwader 52 was formed on 12 December 1959, soon after the Bundestag was given authority to reform the Luftwaffe, by General Kammhuber, former Chief of the Luftwaffe, at Erding in Upper Bavaira. The first tactical aircraft assigned to the Wing was the Republic RF-84 Thunderflash.
  In 1960 the Wing was transferred to Eggebeck (South of Flensburg, Schleswig-Holstein) and remained there until 1 October 1964. On 1 August 1963 the Wing was assigned to NATO after successfully competing in exercise "Royal Flush", taking first place with 100 points over the second placed NATO team. On the same year achieved Tiger Association membership. Shortly after 1 October the Wing was transferred to Leck.
On arrival at Leck the RF-84F was replaced by the Lockheed RF-104 Starfighter.
  On 17 September 1965, the President of the German Aviation Club present the Wing with a "Silver Shield". Only four Wings in the Luftwaffe had received this award.
  On 7 January 1969 the Wing was the recipient of a stuffed Tiger by the Bundespresident for outstanding performance.
  In 1971 the RF-104G was replaced by the RF-4E Phantom II.
  In 1974 the Wing received the "Flying Safety Award" for operating three years, 1971-1973, without accidents. On the same year they win all the trophies from NATO's reconnaissance competition "Big Click".
  In 1983 the Commander of Germany's 3rd Air Division gives the Wing the "Bestpreisdes 3. Luftwaffe Division".
  In 1991 the decision was made to phase out the RF-4E, closing down the two existing reconnaissance Wings in Leck (AKG 52) and Bremgarten (AKG 51) and establishing a Tornado Wing in Jagel.
  On April 1993 The Wing took over the "Immelmann" tradition of AKG 51 "I". Following the closing of Marinefliegergeschwader 1 on December 31st 1993, AKG 51 "I" its now fully established in Jagel. 521 Staffel of AKG 52 was the official Tiger Squadron which carried the traditional Panther badge and ultimately passed this identity across to the second Staffel of AKG 51, 512 Staffel.
  Despite its short existence, AKG 51 has already made history as one part of the Luftwaffe Tornado force (Einsatzgeschwader 1) deployed to Italy for UN operations over the former Yugoslavia.
  In 1994 it becomes a NATO Tiger Squadron.
In 2002 German Tornados were being subject of a mid life update.
The Luftwaffe started to receive a new reconnaissance system for its Tornado IDS aircraft in 1998. It is a podded system, two versions of which were developed by MBB. The first version contains a forward oblique and a vertical wet-film KS-153 camera, as well as a Honeywell infra-red line scanner, and is optimised to fly over targets at low level. When stand-off or medium level photographic capability is needed, the second version of the pod is used. It differs in the front pod, which is adapted to house a KS-153 610mm telephoto lens camera.
As the Tornados were previously owned by the Marineflieger, they operated sometime with the color scheme of their previous owners.
German deployed a composite unit of eight Tornados ECR from JBG 32 and six Tornados IDS recce configured aircraft from AKG 51 to Piacenza in August 1995, beginning operations on 31 August. The deployment of Einsatzgeschwader 1 was Germany's first deployment.
IDS - Interdictor and Strike
Aufklärungsgeschwader (AkG) - Reconnaissance Wing
Luftwaffe - Air Force
Marineflieger - Naval Aviation
Marinefliegergeschwader (MFG) - Naval Aviation Wing
Staffel - Squadron
MBB - Messerschmitt-Bolkow-Blohm
Einsatzgeschwader - Composite Unit

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