Gripen fighters at NATO Tiger Meet 2023
This year’s Tiger Meet went down in the history of the NATO Tiger Association. Not only it was hold in Italy for the first time, it also had the largest number of participants who flew the highest number of missions. All of this, apart from the E-3A Sentry, which operated from Trapani, Sicily, was managed from the Gioia Del Colle air base in southern Italy.
Gripen fighters from the two NATO countries Hungary and Czech Republic participated as usual. Both countries have a long story of participation in NATO led exercises and air policing assignments with their Gripens and NATO Tiger Meet is not an exception.
During two weeks with nine flying days, several different missions were conducted. Every day except Friday, two waves of missions were flown. The morning was usually dedicated to complex COMAO (COMposite Air Operations) scenarios, i.e. missions where large groups of aircraft and helicopters jointly performed various tasks including, for example, air combat, attacks on ground and surface targets, suppression of enemy air defenses or the rescue of downed airmen. In the afternoon, missions of a smaller scale, in which mostly less experienced pilots participated. Their tasks were, for example, aerial combat of individuals, basic combat maneuvering BFM (Basic Fighter Maneuvering) and ACM (Air Combat Maneuvering) or searching for and destroying slow SMI (Slow Mover Interceptor) targets.
NATO Tiger Meet through the eyes of Major Stanislav Cejka, 211th Tactical Squadron Contingent Commander:
Thanks to the work of the whole team, we have achieved 100% of our plan during the exercise. The aircraft were in great shape at all times thanks to the care of the technical staff, the pilots always had the necessary support from the DSQOC (Deployable Squadron Operation Centre) and the logistics from the provision of facilities to all the transportation was all covered.
Today, Tiger Meet is among the largest and most effective air exercises in terms of training in Europe. It can easily be compared to the American exercise Red Flag due to its size and complexity of missions. Apart from fighters, airborne early warning system aircraft like E-3A Sentry and KC-130J and KC-767A tanker aircraft did also participate to make this kind of exercise as realistic as possible. Next year the Tiger Meet will be held in Germany and who knows if Gripen from three countries will be represented? There is a chance, If Sweden has become a NATO member by then.