NATO Tiger Meet 2014 – the training exercise over the North Sea.

The 2014 edition of annual NATO Tiger Meet exercise took place between 16th and 26th June 2014.  17 units participating in Tiger Association or Partnership for Peace were hosted by Taktisches Luftwaffengeschwader 51 ‘Immelmann’.

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The main airfield of the 2014 NTM was the Fliegerhorst Schleswig airbase, located in the north Germany in the vicinity of Jagel town. The airfield was built in 1916 and always used for military purposes only. During the World War II the night fighters were based there, including the Messerschmitt Me 262s, between 1945 and 1958 the airfield was operated by the Royal Air Force and known as ´RAF Schleswigland´. It was also one of the operating airfields of the well-known Berlin Airlift in 1948.

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The fleet of more than 70 aircrafts from 11 countries participated in the exercise and it included F-16s (Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland, Turkey), Eurofighters and Tornados (Germany), F-18s (Switzerland), Mirage 2000s and Rafales (France), Saab 105OE (Austria) and JAS-39 Gripens (Czech Republic and Hungary) with the addition of Mi-24/35, Mi-171, EC 665 Tiger and Merlin helicopters. There was also a Learjet owned by GFD (a civilian contractor) for electronic jamming and E-3A AWACS operating from Norway.

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NATO Tiger Meet is not an airshow but a real military exercise – even if one could doubt that when looking at the tiger-painted aircrafts and the crews´ uniforms. Those special paintings and additions to the uniforms are the integral part of the ´Tiger spirit´ accompanying the NTM exercises and the Tiger Association. The Best Painted Tiger Aircraft and The Best Looking Uniform contests are organized every year, beside the tactical and flying competitions.

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Usually, during each NTM a spotting event is also organized, allowed the registered group of spotters to visit the airfield during the training day. There were two official spotting days at Jagel, on Thursday and Monday. The spotting area was organized inside the airbase, close to the runway.

Unfortunately, the weather was again the most troublemaking factor as several thunderstorms and strong wind were accompanying the 2014 NTM. During the first spotter day the weather was changing every hour, from the rain and storm to the blue sky with sun – and back to the rain. The much better light and weather conditions were reported on the second spotter day.

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The spotter day programme included the presentation of the participating aircrafts that took place between the waves, in front of the spotters´ line. And really it was the wonderful presentation and exceptional photo opportunity for all aviation lovers. The jets were placed just a few meters from the spotting area and then presented by its pilots from different angles.

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According to the information published on the official NATO Tiger Association webpage, the training area covered almost the area of the Netherlands (160 x 200 NM over the North Sea). More than 600 Composite Air Operations (COMAO) and other missions were flown during the exercise. The official Tiger Trophy winners were:

Tiger Games – Escadron de Chasse 1/7 ‘Provence’ (FRA)

Silver Tiger Trophy – Fliegerstaffel 11 (CHE)

Best Skit – 59/1 ‘Puma’ Squadron (HUN)

Best Painted Tiger Aircraft – Taktisches Luftwaffengeschwader 74 (DEU)

Best Looking Uniform – Fliegerstaffel 11 (CHE)

Best Flying Unit – 6 Eskadra Lotnictwa Taktycznego (POL)

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