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
According to this setting the Fench
Minister, M. Pierre Messner, stressed the importance of greater
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
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
- 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
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
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
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
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
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
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) -
Luchtcomponent (in Dutch) / Composante
Aérienne (in French) - Air Component
MLU - Mid Life Update
Luchtmacht (in Dutch) / Force Aérienne (in
French) - Air Force
Tornado IDS -
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 -
Port side of the fin.
The starboard side had the same artwork.
Tornado IDS -
"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 -
Artwork bellow the codes. Only on
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
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
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
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
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) -
Luftwaffe - Air Force
Marineflieger - Naval Aviation
Marinefliegergeschwader (MFG) - Naval
Staffel - Squadron
MBB - Messerschmitt-Bolkow-Blohm
Einsatzgeschwader - Composite Unit
On to Page 3
Back to Page 1