Every year, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) hosts a large meeting of fighter squadrons from various European nations all sharing a common theme: their Tiger heritage. The NATO Tiger Meet, as it has come to be known, is a unique, annual event that celebrates squadrons using the large striped feline as their mascot.
The NATO Tiger Association comprises 23 member squadrons, with several more honorary members, most of which are US-based units like the 79FS ‘Tigers’ at Shaw AFB (one of the other original founding squadrons) and the 391FS “Bold Tigers” at Mountain Home AFB.
For the Tiger units on this side of the pond, there were several Tiger Meet of the Americas held, however these events have long since fallen by the wayside and unfortunately in our fiscal climate it seems unlikely that they’ll ever be back.
The Tiger Meets have been a staple of the European fighter community since 1961 with the goal of encouraging relationships among different units and nationalities.
Though they emanate an aura of competition with flashy Tiger-themed paint schemes and trophies to be won, the modern Tiger Meets are full-blown combined operations exercises and provide valuable training events for many countries that might otherwise lack the resources to travel for large exercises (i.e. Red Flag).
In 2011, the NATO Tiger Meet celebrated its 50th anniversary at Cambrai in France, which was home to one of the original Tiger squadrons. The French Air Force’s Escadron de Chasse 1/12, which operated the Dassault Mirage 2000C, celebrated the 50th with a very smart paint job on one of their aircraft.
Sadly, both the Cambrai base and EC 1/12 are no longer operational – they were both shut down not long after the 2011 meet and one of the historic Tiger squadrons has joined the ranks of the disbanded units. But doing our diligence, we have preserved a very small part of the Tiger history and bring it to you this week for Burner Friday.
The Tiger spirit still lives on though, and this year’s event is just getting underway, hosted by the Turkish Air Force’s 192 Filo at Konya Air Base. Now for some more M2K goodness, sit back, relax, and watch some stunning footage of Dassault’s delta-winged beauty in action, then please take a few moments to share some of your favorite stories about the Dassault Mirage 2000C in the comments below.