NATO Tiger Meet 2009

"Hard To Be Humble"

Kleine Brogel, Belgium

14-25 September 2009


During most years ever since 1961, NATO organises a meet of flying units which all have one thing in common; a tiger in the unit's emblem. Of the three founding members, today only the French EC001.012 from Cambrai survives, the USAFE's 79 TFS and the RAF's No. 74 sq have disbanded. Over the years however, the Tiger Association continued to grow. One of the oldest and most enthousiastic members has always been the Belgian Air Force's 31 squadron from Kleine Brogel. The unit organised many a Tiger Meet during its days with the first one in 1963. During 2009, Kleine Brogel was again the venue for the Tiger Meet. 

Over the years, the Tiger Meet evolved from a social get together to a real flying exercise in which the capabilities of the various participating types were put to good use. World history made its mark on the Meet as well, with Eastern European Air Forces being welcomed after these countries joined NATO following the fall of the Berlin Wall. Same for the Swiss Air Force, which saw its country's neutrality becoming less important in a world which is not bipolar anymore. 

Tradition is and always has been for participating units to adorn one or more of their mounts with tiger inspired paint schemes. The tiger schemes for this Tiger Meet have been assembled below.


F-16AM FA-87 Belgian Air Component 31 sq 

F-16AM 671 Royal Norwegian Air Force Skv 338 

F-16BM 692 Royal Norwegian Air Force Skv 338

F-18C J-5011 Swiss Air Force Flst 11

Mirage F.1M C.14-41/14-22 Spanish Air Force Ala 14

Tornado 45+06 German Air Force AG 51

JAS-39C 9237 Czech Air Force 211.tlt

 Mirage 2000RDI 91/103-YR French Air Force EC 001-012

Rafale B 304/118-EB French Air Force ECE 005-330

EF-18A C.15-24/15-11 Spanish Air Force Ala 15

F-16AM J-646 313 sq Royal Netherlands Air Force

JAS-39D 39852/43 59/1 Puma squadron Hungarian Air Force

Apart from their colourful aircraft, more plainly marked jets participated as well. Examples of those were the Spanish EF-18A Hornet seen above left. Sadly, the Royal Netherlands Air Force's tiger tailed F-16AM was apparently unavailable. Therefore, the high visibility badge on J-646 was the best that could be done. Furthermore, the Tiger Association this year welcomed probationary member 1. "Puma" Vadászrepülö Század of 59. "Szentgyörgyi Deszö" Harcászati Repülö Bázis, 59/1 Puma squadron for short of the Hungarian Air Force. A probationary member will have to "prove" itself first before becoming a true member. The COMAO (Combined Air Operations) during the Tiger Meet would be an ideal occasion.

The presence of helicopter units was used to exercise and demonstrate special forces insertion-extraction tactics. An Italian Air Force AB.212 was employed as a troop transport, with a pair of Czech Hinds including an Mi.24V and an Mi.35 flying as escorts. Something which would have been quite unthinkable during the days of the first Tiger Meets! 


AB.212ICO MM81148 21° Gruppo  Italian Air Force 

Mi.24V 7354 221.lbvr Czech Air Force 

Tiger Meet 2009 closed on 25 September. Meanwhile, it has been decided that the 2010 meet will be organised at Volkel in the Netherlands. Host unit will be 313 sq which will do so for the first time, apart from having organised a Mini Tiger Meet in 1992. The unique sight of a mixed formation of so many types as shown above right will be something to look forward to. 


The above images were all shot during a photocall on 18 September 2009. The author wishes to thank the Belgian Air Component and the Kleine Brogel Air Base staff for organising the photocall.

All pictures (c) Hans Rolink