report by : Thierry LETELLIER


Following the wishes of M.Pierre Messner, the then French defense minister. 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 Armée de l`air to Woodbridge in England. And so the Association of Tiger Squadrons was established to improve relationships between individual squadrons within NATO.Each of these squadrons had a Tigers’ head in their squadron crest.

The tiger stands as a symbol of strength, speed and hunting capabilities.Due to the succes of the first ‘meet’ it was decided that future ‘meets’ would be held annually. Since 1962 Tiger Meets evolved into a first class military exercise where the participants fly combined missions encompassing the entire spectrum of military operations. Alongside low flying emphasis is placed on air to air refueling, air combat, the use of weapon ranges, etc..

Each squadron always tries its best to bring at least one two-seater to NTM. The squadrons then trade backseat rides, so there is usually plenty of opportunity to “check out the competition”. This is one of the best NATO TIGERMEET customs.This year the NATO TIGERMEET was held on one of the best known Airbase by the crews :Kleine-Brogel AB in Belgium.

On a typical Tiger Meet flying program you will find missions like: range firing, air-to-air, low level nav and COMAO missions… all of them with briefings and debriefings. Due to the growing helicopter force within the Tigers they are intigrated within the mission as Forward Air Controllers or in a CSAR role. Besided their work within the COMAO’s the helicopter force often practices with local army (special) forces.

The Tiger Meet is always closed by lowering the flags, after that cermony the tradional farewell party is started an various awards are handed out, of which the Silver Tiger Trophy is the most important one. Unfortunately , it was not possible for me to assist to the spotter-day held for the occasion . It was reported as superb as usual !


Technical information source: NATO TIGERMEET Association.