NATO Tiger Meet 2012

Ørland MAS, Norway

1 - 2 June 2012


NATO's annual Tiger Meet (NTM), Combined Air Operations (COMAO) exercise but also the gathering of units featuring a tiger in their emblems, recently took place at Ørland Main Air Station (MAS) near Trondheim, Norway. It was only the second time that based Tiger club member Skvadron 338 was given the task and honour to host the exercise after the first occasion in 2007. Originally planned to be staged at Monte Real, Portugal, economic realities apparantly got the better of the Portuguese following which the Norwegians stepped in. Apparantly, they did an excellent job as NTM 2013 is to be staged in Norway as well.

However, the bleak economic situation in southern Europe made its mark on the participant field. No Portuguese, Spanish, Italian or Greek aircraft were present. Add to that the recent disbandment of EC 1/12 and the closure of its Cambrai base which meant that for the first time in 50 years none of the original founding fathers of the Tiger Association were present. In time, no doubt SPA 162, now part of EC 1/7 "Provence" at St. Dizier, will make an appearance again. 

Present were many German Tornados of both AG 51 from Schleswig-Jagel and JBG 32 from Lechfeld. Both units however may not survive for long, casting its shadow over the future of the  Tiger Meet. Fortunately, there were many F-16's present from host unit Skv 338, joined by those from Belgian Air component 31 squadron, KLu's 313 squadron and of course the flamboyantly painted Turkish F-16s. The latter had counted on sunny Portugal, hence the chosen device of a tiger on a surfboard on one of the F-16C's. This had to be reworked into a tiger on a snowboard, very aptly chosen considering the cold weather on this first of June, 2012. Although the below images may look sunny, temperatures did not rise much over 5°C! Arctic Tiger indeed.


The below pictures, mainly focussing on the exhuberant colour schemes featuring the Tiger theme were all shot during a Spotter´s Day on Friday 1 June and an Air Show the next day.


The Norwegian Air Force now has three F-16's decked out in different Tiger Meet liveries. Onfortunately, the new one was hangar bound during the two days concerned. The Belgian 31 sq´s FA-87 underwent a slight adaptation to its paint scheme over the winter. 


A Dutch F-16 in tiger marks in take off with to the right to of the Turkish particpants. Note the surfboard-turned-snowboard on the F-16C.


The Swiss Air Force displayed the F/A-18 Hornet in flight during the Saturday. Of course, their Tiger plane was good old J-5011 from Fliegerstaffel 11 at Meiringen. No special Tiger marks were visible on any of the Czech Gripens flying on the Friday nor the Saturday. However, some Tiger spirit was visible on the fuel tank of one of their JAS-39C Gripens. This year, no participation by SPA 162 as this flight had only recently been absorbed by EC 1/7. CEAM 5/330 from Mont de Marsan however did send some Rafales, including this suitably marked example.


Not to be outdone, the German Luftwaffe designed this literally cool blue and white "Ice Tiger" colour scheme for their AG 51 Tornado. JBG 32's Tiger jet could be seen at Cambrai in 2011 already however. 

Support, in the form of air to air refuelling had to be arranged for certain scenarios as well. For this, the Ohio Air National Guard was requested to send a pair of KC-135R tankers to Norway. 

Support in a different form, that of electronic warfare simulation, was entrusted to the German firm of GFD (Gesellschaft für Flugzieldarstellung, Aerial Target Provision Company) from Hohn near Rendsburg. One of the company's Learjet 35A's can be seen in take-off left. During the Spotter's Day, a pair of military VIP jets from the German (Bombardier 5000, center) and the Swiss Air Forces (Cessna 560XL Citation Excel) appeared.


No large scale operation would be thinkable without AWACS support. NATO's E-3A did just that during NTM 2012. Active during NTM 2012, in case of aircrew having to ditch, were Skv 330's Sea King rescue helicopters. Note the two winches mounted for redundancy on this helicopter. 

The air show on the Saturday amongst other featured a set-piece in which most assets of the Royal Norwegian Air Force featured. Among them were the Dassault Falcon 20ECM seen at right.

Further Norwegian participation included this P-3C Orion. Very welcome sights were the RNoAF's demo F-16AM in its red-white-blue and silver paint scheme which when viewed from above resembled a Norwegian roundel. Another visitor was at the time of writing only NH.90NFH naval helicopter, the intended successor to the Westland Lynx.

During the Tiger Meet, it became known that Skv 338 will be organising NTM 2013 as well. Originally, the meet was to be held at Araxos in Greece, but the reasons for the Greek dropping out on this one have already been touched upon above.

All pictures (c) Hans Rolink