NTM 2011 : Tiger Tiger Tiger !

Text : Luc Dujardin - Pictures : Luc Dujardin & Adj Bart Roselle in flight © sbap 2011


From 10 to may 19, the NATO Tiger Meet was held at BA 103 Cambrai-Epinoy. This is the home base of squadron EC  01.012 “Cambraisis” and its Tiger flight SPA 162. 2011 is an important year because of the 50th anniversary of those Tiger meetings. Unfortunately, this year, due to the military operation in Libya, some units (like NATO’s 1 Sqn, Belgian 31, Netherlands 313 Sqn, Norway 338 Sqn and UK 230 Sqn) have cancelled their participation to the event.

The very first Tiger Meet took place at Woodbridge in 1961. Since that date, the Tiger Meet became each year a bigger military event. At the beginning, it was an informal meeting between Tiger squadrons. Now it is actually an important military date. The exercises include many missions, typically one in the morning and another one in the afternoon. Each raid is flown by around twenty combat aircraft with a variety of tasks like air superiority, reconnaissance or bombing. The air operation was planned in a specific airspace area around Cambrai, above the north-east quarter of France, and some Belgian and German airspace.

Click on map to get the link


During this Tiger Meet, the base Cambrai welcomed 1100 people coming from 17 different countries. Food and drink for all this crowd was provided by the French Army from installations similar to those deployed in external operation theatres.

May 11, 16 and 17 were three days planned for spotters (1500 persons a day) to give the best opportunities to take pictures of the beautiful tiger painted planes. On May 17th, the weather was cloudy in the morning but eventually the sun broke through by noon. The morning mission was planned around 10h00-12h00 local time and the second mission around 14h00-16h00. The first jet engine started around 9h00 and the first take-off took place at 9h28. The last combat aircraft being airborne was a pair of Slovak MiG-29 at 10h50. The planes took off for the second mission in more spaced boxes, each patrol alone. So departures took place from 13h18 to 14h55. The last to leave were three helicopters (2 AB-212 from IAF and 1 Czech Mil-24). In the afternoon, photographers who were familiar with the BA 103 neighbourhood left the air base to go to the end of runway. They were right because the heat generated a lot of reverberation at ground level above the runway.

A Tiger Meet is always a great event with a particular atmosphere. Not only are the planes wearing tiger stripes but pilots and technicians too. Some units came with their own tiger car. 1/12 Cambraisis has a bike, a motorbike, and a Citroen 2CV. The 31th Squadron of the Belgian air force came with a Jaguar (not the plane, but the car!).  The 321th Squadron of German air force came from Lechfeld with a car and a scooter bike. We were amazed by a refuelling truck that was fully tiger painted except for the cabin. 2011 was a great year! RrrooaaAARR!


Tigers units

Country / Force Unit Aircraft
Austria / AusAF 1JTS 3x Saab 105OE
Belgium / BAF 31 Sqn Canceled due Lybia operations (only as visitor)
Czech Republic / CzAF 211 Sqn 4 x JAS-39C Gripen
Czech Republic / CzAF 221 Sqn 2x Mi-24
Germany / GAF JaboG 321 4 x Tornado ECR
Germany / GAF AG 51 6 x Tornado IDS
Greece / HAF 335 Sqn 3 F-16 Blk 52
Hungary / HAF 59/1 Puma Sqn Canceled
France / FAF EC 05/330 4 Mirage 2000RDY
France / FAF EC 01/012 3 Mirage 2000B/C
France / FN 11Flottile 3 x SEM
Italy / ItAF 21° Gruppo 2 x AB212
Netherlands /RNLAF 313 Sqn Canceled due Lybia operations
Norway / RNAF 338 Sqn Canceled due Lybia operations
Poland / PoAF 6 ELT 5 x F-16 Blk 52 (observators)
Portugal / PAF 301 Sqn 5 x F-16 MLU
Spain / SpAF 142 Escuadron 3 x Mirage F-1 (1 week only)
Spain / SpAF ALA 15 3 x EF/A-18
Switzerland / SwAF 11 Sqn 5x F-18C/D
United Kingdom / RAF 230 Sqn Canceled due Lybia operations
United Kingdom / Royal Navy 814 Sqn 2 x Merlin HM. 1
Turkey / TuAF 192 Filo 3x F-16 Blk 50
Slovakia / SlAF 1 sqn 2 x MiG-29
NATO 1 Sqn Canceled due Lybia operations
Tiger operations

Tiger in flight

Tiger drivers

Tiger tails

Tiger spirit

Tiger book

Because of its 50th anniversary, the NATO Tiger Association has published a memorial book by subscription. It was possible to order it by advance or to buy it at the Cambrai-Niergnies airshow and at the Tiger Associaton stand during the spottersdays as well. This beautiful work let us know all the importants facts inside the Tiger Meets, then and now. Each Tiger Meet is described with a lot of pictures and testimonials of pilots and air crews. Each Tiger squadron is depicted with a short history ot the unit, its aircraft and missions. Even the Tiger Meets of Ameerica and Mini Tiger Mets are shown in this very complete books. A must have to any Tiger enthusiast.

Silver Tiger Trophy 2011
Silver Tiger Trophy: Esquadra 301 Portugal
Best Flying Unit: Esquadra 301 Portugal
Tiger Games winner: Fliegerstaffel 11 Switzerland
Best Skit: Esquadra 301 Portugal
Best looking Uniform: Escadron de Chasse et d'Expérimentation 05.330 France
Most fancy paintscheme: Aufklarungsgeschwader 51 Germany

Next Tiger Meet : 2012 Monté Real (Portugal)    2013 Araxos (Greece)

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