Flying tigers together in Germany | the pictures

Flying tigers together in Germany |  the pictures

Flying units that are members of NATO Tigers AssociationThey have been meeting for the past two weeks at Schleswig Air Base in Germany. During the annual Tiger Meet, affiliated squadrons meet each other to train together and foster mutual relationships.

In the early 1960s, the US 79th Tactical Fighter Squadron, the British 74th Squadron and the French EC 1/12th Squadron jointly started what is now known as the “NATO Tiger League”. Various squadrons of European and American air forces with a tiger in their emblem were allowed to join this. After the collapse of the Warsaw Pact, several Eastern European squadrons also joined the Panther League.

Currently, 24 squadrons are affiliated with the NATO Tigers, including the 313 Dutch Squadron, based at Volkel Air Base. NATO membership is not a strict requirement, as the Swiss 11th Staffel (with the F/A-18 Hornet) and the Austrian Air Force’s 2nd Staffel are also “full members”. The word “tiger” in the logo is also freely interpreted. For example, the German AG51 code is Black Panther, and the Portuguese Esq.301 code is Jaguar. However, both are full members of NATO’s Tigers.

The most exceptional is the 11F Fleet of the French Navy. The squadron’s logo does not show a tiger, but a seahorse! When 11F gained membership in the late 1970s, the symbol of the aircraft carrier Clemenceau was the Panther. This ship was the home of Sailing 11F. After Clemenceau was taken out of service, the squadron was allowed to remain a member.

At present, only European squadrons are active members of the Tiger League. Some US and Canadian units are honorary members. The Canadian 439 Squadron was an active member in the past when it was stationed in Germany. Eight squadrons are listed as ‘disbanded’, including RAF No. 74 Squadron and French Squadron EC 1/12, both early members.

The NATO Tiger Reunion is an annual gathering of Tiger League member squadrons. The main goal is to train together in a “Big Strength Recruitment Exercise.” Various practice scenarios are used to improve collaboration and integration. Each squadron sends several aircraft and crews to meet the Tiger. The exchange of knowledge and experience is of utmost importance during a tiger encounter. The Tiger Encounter is a good alternative, especially for countries that do not have the opportunity to participate in large-scale international exercises such as Red Flag.

Many traditions are honored by the NATO Tiger League, especially during Tiger meets. For example, almost every squadron sends an aircraft specially designed to meet the tiger. Sometimes the tail gets some tiger stripes, but more often the entire plane is painted bright colors for the occasion.

Whenever possible, participants also send a two-seater aircraft to the tiger encounter. This way, the pilots not only get to know each other better, but they also get to know each other’s planes. Furthermore, every Tigers meet is opened and closed with a flag raising ceremony.

This year’s NATO Tigers meeting was hosted by Luftwaffe Squadron AG51 at its main base in Schleswig, northern Germany. Images were made available by Tim Vollmer, Peter Steuer, and Leonard van den Broek.

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