Aerial Warfare

NATO Partner Switzerland Continues Tradition of Flying with Tiger Squadrons

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NATO Partner Switzerland Continues Tradition of Flying with Tiger Squadrons
NATO Partner Switzerland Continues Tradition of Flying with Tiger Squadrons

From June 2 to 12, NATO Partner Switzerland deployed four F/A-18 fighter aircraft to Jagel, Germany, for participation in the 2024 Tiger Meet and fly alongside other Tiger squadrons for tactical level flying to NATO standards. A 50-strong detachment supports the F/A-18 jets from Fliegerstaffel 11 at Meiringen during the flying training; pilots, maintainers and force protection personnel ensure the jets are prepared, turned around and flown during training drills demonstrating their skills in multinational composite air operations. The fact that Switzerland is a NATO Partner and not a member does not matter in this Tiger context.

“This is the 24th time that Fliegerstaffel 11 – the Tiger Squadron of the Swiss Air Force – has participated in a NATO Tiger Meet. Tiger Meets are a great experience for our team. Deploying our fighter aircraft to another base some 1000 kilometres away from our home in Switzerland boosts our expeditionary skills and resilience as a unit. Our pilots hugely benefit from this challenging training event. They fly with our international partners, go through in-person flight planning and participate in large force employment. All this hones their flying skills – something you don’t get when you only fly in your known environment at home,” said Lieutenant Colonel Andrin Witschi, responsible for the Swiss Tiger detachment.

Swiss F/A-18 taking off - the Swiss Air Force Tiger squadron - Fliegerstaffel 11 - became a member of the NATO Tiger in 1981.
Swiss F/A-18 taking off – the Swiss Air Force Tiger squadron – Fliegerstaffel 11 – became a member of the NATO Tiger in 1981. (Photo by Dimitris Dimitrakopoulos/AC NATO)

“We have common tactics, techniques and procedures for aircraft missions; our pilots are gathering invaluable experiences in an exceptional mix of training missions in areas that differ from when they fly in mountainous terrain in Switzerland. Fliegerstaffel 11 is a busy fighter unit tasked with important real-world missions. However, we have to take time off our schedule to train individually and collectively – this is mission-essential. This year, we will once again not be able to stay to the end of the Tiger Meet, as we redeploy on June 12 to get ready to protect the skies in Switzerland during the Summit on Peace in Ukraine taking place on June 15 and 16at the Bürgenstock resort in the canton of Nidwalden,” added Lieutenant Colonel Witschi.

Established in 1952, Swiss Fliegerstaffel 11 based at Meiringen Air Base, Switzerland has been a member of the NATO Tiger Association since 1981. Switzerland is a longstanding, valued partner for NATO. Switzerland’s continued participation in NATO Tiger Meets demonstrates close NATO Ally-Partner interoperability. 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. As well as being opportunities for NATO air forces to share ideas and experiences, the ‘Tiger Meets’ are also public relations exercises for NATO. NATO aircraft are often brightly painted with tiger stripes.

For the 24th Swiss F/A-18s have been flying in a NATO Tiger Meet closely integrated into planning, conduct and de-briefing of complex flying missions to NATO standards.
For the 24th Swiss F/A-18s have been flying in a NATO Tiger Meet closely integrated into planning, conduct and de-briefing of complex flying missions to NATO standards. (Photo by Bundeswehr)
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