Tiger Formation over the Atlantic during NATO Tiger Meet.
Tiger Formation over the Atlantic during NATO Tiger Meet.

NATO Tiger Squadrons Converge in Portugal

Around 3000 military personnel and 57 aircraft will converge on Beja Air Base, Portugal to practice their flying skills during this year’s NATO Tiger Meet from May 2 – 14. The event, this year organised by the Portuguese Air Force, will be one of the largest international exercises ever held in Portugal. It will be attended by nine fighter and helicopter squadrons from eight nations including Portugal, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, France and the USA alongside NATO Partner Switzerland. They will also be supported by a NATO E-3A AWACS.

NATO Tiger Squadrons Converge in Portugal
231 Vrlt departs BAN Landiviseau for a NATO Tiger Meet mission. (Photo by David Goovaerts/NATO Tiger Squadrons)

The focus of this two-week exercise will be to practice day and night operations in a multi domain environment, against a robust airborne and ground and sea based threat. This is a great opportunity for valuable integration and interoperability between NATO nations and Partnership for Peace members, and to share lessons learned. The NATO Tiger Meet provides unique squadron-level training and enhances professionalism and good airmanship across NATO and Partner air forces.

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NATO Tiger Squadrons Converge in Portugal
313 Sqn Celebrates 55th anniversary (Photo by NATO Tiger Squadrons)

The overarching framework is provided by the NATO Tiger Association and the individual meets are organised by the hosting squadron – this year the Portuguese 301 “Jaguares” Squadron at Beja Air Base. NATO Tiger Meet 2021 Spotters Day’s will be held in partnership with Canon Portugal, S.A. The Portugees Air Force has decided to go ahead with 2 spotters day’s during NATO Tiger Meet 2021 (restricted to 300 people per day).

NATO Tiger Squadrons Converge in Portugal
AG51 50 years recce Tornado (photo by David Goovaerts/NATO Tiger Squadrons)

The NATO Tiger Association or the Association of Tiger Squadrons was established in 1961. Promoted by French Defence minister Pierre Messmer, its role is to promote solidarity between NATO air forces. It is not, though, part of the formal NATO structure. The NATO Tiger Meet is a tactical-level live-fly event that has existed since 1961. The USAFE (United States Air Force Europe) 79th TFS (Tactical Fighter Squadron) took the initiative and on 19 July 1961 they invited No. 74 Squadron RAF and EC (Fighter Squadron) 1/12 Cambresis of the French Armée de l’air to Woodbridge in England. France was then a full military member of NATO.

NATO Tiger Squadrons Converge in Portugal
NATO Tiger Squadrons formation over the coast during NATO Tiger Meet. (Photo by Ulrich Metternich/NATO Tiger Squadrons)
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