NATO Lions Meet, Kleine Brogel, Belgium
18 July 2002
For some 40 years, NATO has had the Tiger Association. This club of flying units with a tiger as a motif has since held annual gatherings, known as Tiger Meets, at the base of one of it's members. 2002 saw the first Lions Meet. Thoughts immediately turned to just units with lion motifs in their badges taking part. Not so, the term lion should be taken less literally. NATO's first Lion Meet turned out to be a COMAO (COMbined Air Operations) exercise with a very interesting set of participants. Not just that, the aviation photographer fraternity were again very welcome at Kleine Brogel. Participants included several Belgian F-16's and German Tornados many of which were sprayed in special colour schemes. The French sent Mirages of various types along with the now fast disappearing Jaguars. Throw in some Portuguese Alpha Jets for a more exotic flavour and the menu for the Lions Meet has been sketched. Also of importance was the base's decision to use the parallel track to park the aircraft which last year were divided among the taxiway leading to the southern hangar complex and the northern shelter area. Combined with glorious sunshine in the afternoon the jets, many with a minimum of warning flags and intake blanks, could be very well photographed. A very well spent day was the result with so many aircraft of so many different types. Below a selection of what was to be seen.

Many thanks, Kleine Brogel!

All pictures (c) Hans Rolink.

F-16A FA106
Air Defence forever was the motto of this specially marked Belgian Air Force 349 sq F-16A. FA-106 displays beautifully the units "Goedendag" or mace device.
F-16A FA-122
Kleine Brogel hosts two F-16 squadrons following the disbandment of 23 sq. 31 sq decorated this FA-122 with a tiger's head, the unit being the Belgian Air Force's Tiger squadron.

F-16B FB-24
Apart from the two squadrons, Kleine Brogel als houses the Belgian F-16 OCU. This unit painted up two-seater FB-24 on the occasion of the OCU's (Operational Conversion Unit)15th anniversary.
F-16A FA-47
The Belgian Air Force is never too shy to decorate F-16 tail fins. FA-47 belongs to Florennes based 1 sq and the device depics the unit's symbol, a thistle. The squadron's nickname stems from a certain attribute of this plant.
F-16A FA-71
Not to be out done, 350 sq decorated FA-71 with this rendition of it's unit insignia. It consists of a Gallic warrior's head. Remember that when the F-16 was introduced, it was announced that this kind of artwork would be a thing of the past....
Tornado 43+46
Tornado 43+46 painted up as AG 51's Tiger for 2002's Tiger Meet held at Beja, Portugal earlier that year. Note that the feline's head is that of a black panther's.
Tornado 44+56
JBG 34, based at Memmingen, is to disband at the end of 2002. Thus, the unit will sadly not get to celebrate it's 45th anniversary. For this reason perhaps, it was decided to paint up Tornado 44+56 for the unit's 43rd anniversary.
Tornado ECR 46+42
Most flamboyant of all Tornado special paint schemes must surely be this one. JBG 32 sprayed Tornado ECR 46+42 in a predominantly red "Monster" colour scheme.
Tornado 46+20
The only fast jet unit within the German Navy is MFG 2. This unit painted up Tornado 46+20.
Alpha Jet E E48/8-MH
The French Air Force was present with a trio of Alpha Jet E's. One was from the Advance Flying School ET 314, the other from the Weapons Training unit ET 8. Of these, E48/8-MH sported markings to celebrate 20 years of Alpha Jets with the unit.
F-4F 37+50
Germany's Luftwaffe recently disbanded JG 72. Based at Rheine-Hopsten, slated for closure, the unit is now named ZAE (Zentrale Ausbildungs Einheit) for the F-4F. This stands for Central Training Unit. 37+50 received this decorated fin for the occasion of the disbandment of the first squadron of JG 72.
Mirage F.1B 509/33-FX
Assigned to recce-tasked ER 33, Escadron de Chasse 3/33 "Lorraine" functions as the Operational Conversion unit for the French Air Force Mirage F.1 community. All the Mirage F.1B two seaters like 509/33-FX have been concentrated within this unit. One of them got this specially marked tail fin.
Jaguar A A113/7-HT
The French Air Force still flies a single squadron of Jaguars. Once the sharp end of France's tactical squadrons, the type is now being phased out. It's tasks have been taken over by more modern types like the Mirage F.1CT and Mirage 2000D.
A113/7-HT is from EC 1/7 "Provence".
Mirage 2000-5F 43/2-FB
Prime air defender in France's Armee de 'l Air until the advent of the Rafale is the Mirage 2000-5F. The Dash 5F is a conversion from Mirage 2000C's delivered in the mid-eighties. 43/2-FB is from EC 2/2 "Cote d'Or" at Dijon.
TF-104G-M MM54232/4-29
In the extended twilight of it's service with Italy's Aeronautica Militare is this TF-104G-M Starfighter. MM54232/4-29 of 20 Gruppo is still used to train what must be the last Starfighter pilots on the planet!
Alpha Jet A 15221
The Portuguese Air Force brought two of the few servicable Alpha Jets to KeeBee. One of these was camouflaged 15221, the other 15250 still resplendent in it's Tiger Meet livery of 2001.
Harrier GR.7 ZG500/71
Plainly marked, but nevertheless very welcome, was RAF 1 sq Harrier GR.7 ZG500/71. It was one of a pair of this STOVL type to attend the Lions Meet.