NATO Tiger Meet 2009
Photo Report
    NATO Tiger Meet 2009

    NATO Tiger Meet

    Photographer: Frank Grealish
    Date: 16th September 2009
    Location: Kleine Brogel AB (EBBL) , Belgium

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    If fast jets are your thing then the NATO Tiger Meet 2009 was the place to be, more than 50 aircraft participated in the exercise, one of the largest to be held by NATO in Europe during 2009. Most of the participating aircraft were fast jets but some helicopters and prop aircraft also put in an appearance.

    Tiger Meet 2009 was held at Kleine Brogel Air Base, Belgium from September 14th-25th, the host unit being 31 Smaldeel, 10 Tactical Wing.

    Origins of the NATO Tiger Meet
    The NATO Tiger Meet came into being following the wishes of Pierre Messner, then the French Defence Minister, who to improve relationships between individual squadrons within NATO. The USAFE (United States Air Force Europe) 79th TFS (Tactical Fighter Squadron) took the initiative and on 19 July 1961 they invited No.74 Squadron Royal Air Force and EC 1/12 Squadron of the French Armee de lAir to Woodbridge in England.

    Each of these squadrons had a Tigers head in their squadron crest. The tiger stands as a symbol of strength, speed and hunting prowess.Due to the success of the first meet it was decided that future meets would be held annually.... and so the Association of Tiger Squadrons was established.

    The aims of the Tiger Meet are:

    - Improvement of solidarity between NATO members
    - The creation and maintenance of team-spirit and camaraderie between the participating members
    - The exchange of experiences and cooperation in line with the military goals of NATO

    Tiger Meet 2009 was the biggest meet to be held in the 48 year history of the Tiger Meet. 64 aircraft and more than 850 personnel from 11 nations participated along with official observers from 5 additional forces. A total of 785 missions were flown resulting in 1253 flight hours of high value tactical training for the participants. For the first time two Serbian pilots of 241 Squadron "Tigrovi" from Kraljevo-Ladevci Air Base were invited to visit the NATO Tiger Meet.

    Flight Operations
    During eight exercise days morning and afternoon missions were flown. The "shadow wave" in the morning consisted of individual training flights and formations of smaller sizes. The afternoon was dedicated to the big COMAOs (Composite Air Operations), in which different air assets were employed in diverse roles and tasks, including swing role operations for some jets, being fighter protection as well as fighter bomber attack assets. The main objective was to train and practice inter-operability between different units.

    The preparation phase for these complex missions including more than 50 aircraft was always started in the afternoon of the day prior.

    Exercise Pegasus
    Running in parallel to the NATO Tiger Meet was the Special Forces Exercise Pegasus. Pegasus had over 300 soldiers of Special Forces from different nations deployed in the Ardennes in southern Belgium. Exercise operations took place together with the forces of the NATO Tiger Meet. A number of tasks and activities such as FAC (Forward Air Controlling), CSAR (Combat Search and Rescue), PR (Personal Recovery) were carried out.

    Awards
    Once the flying was finished it was time for the closing party & awards ceremony. The following award were presented:

    - Silver Tiger Trophy: Escadron de Chasse 01.012
    - Best Flying Unit: 338 Skvadron
    - Tiger Games winner: Fliegerstaffel 11
    - Best Skit: 142 Escuadron
    - Best looking Uniform: Escadron de Chasse 01.012
    - Most fancy paint scheme: Aufklarungsgeschwader 51

    Future Tiger Meets
    2010: Volkel, Netherlands
    2011: Cambrai, France (50th Anniversary of the NATO Tiger Meet)

    And finally...
    A big thank you goes to Adjudant-Chef Peter Dewael of the Public Relations Office in Brussels for organising my visit to Kleine Brogel and for his help and assistance on the day.