XTM 21 Tiger Joint Jubilee at Kleine-Brogel Air Base

The NATO Tiger Meet is a yearly tactical-level live-fly event that has existed since 1961. The overarching framework is provided by the NATO Tiger Association and the individual meets are organised by the hosting squadron – this anniversary event was hosted by the 31 Smaldeel Belgian Air Force Fighter Squadron at Kleine Brogel. Whilst not related to any NATO headquarters, the NATO Tiger Meet provides unique squadron-level training and enhances professionalism and good airmanship across NATO’s air forces. Besides the priorities for realistic and operational training, the added benefits of the NATO Tiger Meets are the famous traditions that help to create a special atmosphere which is known as “Tiger Spirit”. It is not only the colourful surrounding with tiger striped flight suits, scarves, boots, flight helmets and aircraft, but the personal relations and the friendship between individuals, squadrons and nations that play a significant role.

XTM2021 at Kleine-Brogel Air Base was originally planned as the full 2021 Nato Tiger Meet, but with the postponement of NTM 2020 to 2021 due to the global Covid Pandemic, it was scaled down to a limited meet concentrated around the 60th Anniversary of the NATO Tiger Association and the 70th Anniversary of 31 Smaldeel (BAF) the host. Due to Covid-19 measures still in place one month prior to startex, the exercise part of the XTM21 was cancelled.

Altough the exercise part of XTM21 was cancelled, squadrons and members from Allied and Partner Nations came together September 10 to 13 in Kleine Brogel Air Base, Belgium, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the NATO Tiger Association. Tiger Squadrons from across the Alliance including Belgium, Italy, Greece, UK, Portugal, France, Czech republic, Germany and Poland, alongside partners from Austria attended the special event.

Paricipants of XTM 21 were Austrian Air Force Überwachungsgeschwader with EF-2000, French Air Force EC 3/30 flying Rafale B and C, French Air Force ECE 1/30 with Rafale B/C, French Navy 11F with Rafale M, Hellenic Air Force with F-16C and F-16D of 335 Mira, Portuguese Air Force Esq 301 with F-16A/B, Czech Air Force JAS39C/D of 211TL, German Air Force TLG51 with Tornado IDS and ECR, Czech Air Force 221LtBVr with Mi-24V and Mi-171, Italian Air Force 12° Gruppo with EF2000, 6ELT Polish Air Force with F-16C/D, German Air Force TLG74 with EF-2000 and organising unit 31sm Belgian Air Force with F-16 AM/BM.

The UK delegation of 230 squadron and  21° Gruppo of the Italian Air Force were observers only, while other regular participants did not participate. Among these were 313 squadron Royal Netherlands Air Force due to conversion to F-35, Spanish Air Force Ala142 and Swiss Air Force 11 Staffel.

Winner of this years Tiger Games was TLG74 of the German Air Force. The next NATO Tiger Meet will be held at Araxos Air Base in Greece. 335 Mira will host this event from  – 

Sanicole Air Show

In the same period the annual Sanicole air show was held from Friday 10 until Sunday 13 September. Most aircraft operated from Kleine-Brogel Air Base. Helicopters were flown from the base to Sanicole and returned after the show.

The Sanicole Airshow always manages to have an interesting mix of civilian and military participants. For this year the organisation managed to have nice military displays. The Italian Air Force had three solo diplays: The F-2000 Typhoon, the C-27J Spartan and the Aermacchi T-346 Master, all from the Reparto Sperimentale Volo (RSV). Two F-16 demos were flown at Sanicole: the F-16C Fighting Falcon from the Polish Air Force’s ‘ Tiger Demo Team’  flown by Major Wojciech ′′Ramrod′′ Kieczur and the Hellenic Air Force’s ZEUS Demo Team. The Hungarian Air Force SAAB JAS-39C Gripen, flown by pilot Mate Majerik , the Finnish Air Force McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Hornet flown by Captain Anssi Nieminen and the Czech SAAB JAS-39C Gripensolo display flown by Captain Ondřej Španko were the remaining fast jet solo demos.

The Belgian Air Force supported the show with their Red Devils demo team flying SF.260M, a 40 squadron NF90NFH Caiman, the Agusta A109BAi demo team and several F-16s. 

The French Air Force sent an EVAA Extra 330SC for the air display, as well as the Vautour Bravo Tactical Demonstration Team. The team of Capitaine Jean-Phillipe and Captaine Julian fly a pair of Dassault Rafale B/C multi-role fighters from EC2/30 ‘Normandie Niemen‘ and EC3/30 ‘Lorraine’ based at Mont-de-Marsan. A rarely seen visitor at airshows is the Northrop Grumman E-2C Hawkeye of the French Navy. An example of this carrier-based AEW aircraft of Flotille 4F participated in the airshow. Helicopters of interest were the German Army NH90TTH, the Royal Netherlands Air Force CH-47D, Royal Navy Leonardo Wildcat HMA2 and displays from the Mil Mi-24V Hind, Mi-171 Hip and most interesting of all, the PZL W-3A Sokół Search and Rescue helicopter of the Czech Air Force. With an additional selection of historical aircraft and demo teams, Sanicole Airshow is a very interesting show to visit.

While on on Saturday, with the day filled with participants for Sanicole Airshow, clouds and rain dominated the weather, we had good hopes for the Monday. Fortunately  the weather had changed for the better, and we enjoyed a day of spectacular take-offs from the participants of the XTM 21, with the German Bavarian Typhoon as the first prize winner in our opinion. With all the participants of the Sanicole Airshow also leaving (except for the French Navy E-2, which departed on Sunday after its display at Sanicole) it was an action packed day. The Czech Air Force Gripens and the Italian Air Force Typhoons of 36 Stormo flew a local mission with the Belgian Air Force F-16s of 31 Squadron. After landing they also left for their homebase. Last but not least, some support aircraft also found their way to Kleine-Brogel Air Base.

Next year the Sanicole Airshow will use Beauvechain Air Base as homebase for the participating aircraft, as Kleine-Brogel will be closed in that period due to runway upgrades.

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