Dienstag, 16.07.2024 05:37 Uhr

NATO Tiger Meet

Verantwortlicher Autor: Daniele Maiolo Wetzikon ZH, 25.06.2024, 22:02 Uhr
Presse-Ressort von: Aeronautics and Aerospace Bericht 3350x gelesen

Wetzikon ZH [ENA] This exercise was born between end of 1950s and beginning of 1960s at the push of the then French Defense Minister Pierre Joseph Auguste Messmer to promote a form of collaboration between NATO members. So in 1961 the first meeting of Tigers Squadrons took place at the RAF Woodbridge air base in Suffolk, England, which was then repeated the following year at the same base.

Since 1963, NATO Tigermeet has taken place every year in a different base of the members of NATO Tiger Association, the association founded in 1961 to bring together the NATO "Tiger" squadrons. NTA (NATO Tiger Association) is made up of 24 official members and 10 honorary members, it is not a structural component of NATO and is responsible for managing the meetings of Tiger Squadrons. NTMs are military exercises that involve the departments of participating flight groups and sometimes also departments of ground components of other forces, as mentioned above, they take place every year in a different air base and, normally, the missions take place on two or three scenarios both in the morning and in afternoon in the two weeks of exercise.

Their aim is to perfect the interoperability of assets in defense and air interdiction missions, support for troops on the ground (Close Air Support - CAS) and search and rescue of personnel in hostile environments (Personnel Recovery - PR). The participating members thus have the opportunity to compare themselves with the different means available and exchange data and information in order to collaborate within the Atlantic Alliance.

The usefulness of the missions is to always maintain a high level of operational readiness and interoperability between the various air forces involved so as to be able to operate more simply and effectively in the event of an intervention or conflict involving NATO members. For example, in October 2023 at the Gioia del Colle Air Base in Italy, the NTM23 was based, and for this occasion Italy made logistical support available with components of the Italian Army, the “Caio Duilio” destroyer of the Italian Navy in air defense function, but also: Red Cross and Civil Protection in collaboration with the armed forces. The flight scenario was divided between Puglia, Calabria and Basilicata both on the Ionian Sea and on the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Not all members participate in the NTM every year, depending on the availability of the squadrons and the chosen time of year the participating Air Forces vary each year. In 2023, 12 nations participated in the NTM in Italy, just as 12 nations participated in the event held in June 2024 at Schleswig AB in Germany. The bases hosting an NTM must be capable of managing traffic of 60 or 70 fixed or rotary wing aircraft, hosting all the mobile support structures of the squadrons and also ensuring their safety. An industry of a few thousand soldiers and civilians which involves important and specific planning to also be able to integrate the different cultures that meet among NATO members and which starts as soon as the host base is chosen.

The spirit of Tiger Meet is to give credit to the important work that the Air Forces carry out daily and tirelessly for the defense of the skies and support for territorial defense. Within NATO, the work carried out by the allied air forces is fundamental to maintaining peace for the member countries of the Atlantic alliance and supporting friendly countries. In addition to the strictly military part linked to the exercise, Tiger Meet stands out for some peculiarities surrounding the seriousness of the operations. As we were saying, members of NTA are distinguished by having a Tiger or even just a wild Feline as their symbol, for this reason an aircraft is usually prepared for NTM with a special livery dedicated to the Squadron's symbol.

In addition to the aircraft, over the years the crews have always added special references to their symbol, on the suits, on the vehicles and so on, thus leading to awards being given for the best liveries or clothing or originality referring to the Tigers. Works developed and studied year by year by the crews and pilots, as well as some scenography or scenographic gestures to be shown to participating photographers and crews, but not only because the NTMs are every year a destination for enthusiasts who can enjoy days dedicated to them by of the crews.

In fact, in the two weeks dedicated to the exercises, days are organized in which to host not only the media, but also civilian guests and enthusiasts who can admire the take-off and landing operations up close or in the case of Open Days they can also admire the aircraft with the special liveries created for the occasion. These days, in addition to contact with crews in the air and on the ground, as well as being able to admire the aircraft, enthusiasts have the opportunity to meet mascots and admire scenography developed by the squadrons with clear reference to the NATO-Tigers, but also the possibility of purchasing gadgets or clothing specially made available by the squadrons.

For the crews, in addition to the demanding work and public relations with the public, it also has its share of fun outside of flight operations, during the NTM they can also enjoy areas of relaxation and fun to be shared among all the participants. We mention for example the evenings dedicated to the culinary specialties of the countries of origin of the squadrons, the official and also unofficial parties, the "after work" meeting moments in special dedicated areas to also enjoy a drink together.

Part of the history of Tiger Meets is the Silver Tiger Trophy, the history of the Silver Tiger began in 1977, when the Tiger Meet was first hosted by the Air Tattoo at RAF Greenham Common. As per the old tradition in the military community, at the end of the meeting an exchange of gifts takes place, and on the occasion of this event a precious silver tiger was donated to the tiger community. This silver tiger soon became a trophy to be awarded during Tiger Meets, the winner will keep it until the next edition of an NTM and will then be honored by attaching a small silver plaque with the date his unit won the trophy for all to see forever. From Switzerland: Daniele Maiolo www.bestshotaircraft.com

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