The NATO Tiger Meet exercise returns to Italy

(To air Force)

The 2 edition of NATO will be held from 13 to 2023 October in Italy at the Gioia del Colle Air Force Airport Tiger Meet, one of the most important and complex international exercises that aims to refine cooperation and facilitate the sharing of training experiences between the Armed Forces of the Allied Countries.

The “NATO Tiger Meet” – which every year since 1960 has brought together the flight groups of the various Armed Forces whose coat of arms features a “tiger” – took place for the first time in Italy fifty years ago (1973) at the base of Cameri, and then returned there in 1980 and 1988.

Thirty-five years later, Italy will once again host this important international training meeting, also in conjunction with the celebrations for the Centenary of the Air Force, established as an autonomous Armed Force in 1923.

The Gioia del Colle (BA) air base, home of the 36th "Fighter" wing, will be the meeting place for pilots and flight crews from over 10 NATO countries and its partners, who will exercise - with operations that will affect the airspace of Puglia, Calabria and Basilicata - to perfect the interoperability of assets in defense and air interdiction missions, to support troops on the ground (Close Air Support – CAS) or search and recovery of personnel in a hostile environment (Personnel Recovery - PR).

This training, which in jargon is called Large Force Employment (LFE), will involve approximately 70 fixed-wing and 10 rotary-wing aircraft, coming from over 10 nations, many of which with special liveries dedicated precisely to Tiger Meet. In addition to Air Force units, Navy assets will also be used in the exercise.

In Italy there are two members of the Born Tiger Meet Association, both from the Air Force. The 12th flight group of the 36th "Fighting" wing - heir since 2001 of the "White Tigers" Squadron of the 21st "Fighting" group - in 2021 won the prestigious "Silver Tiger Trophy", an award given to the flight group which stands out most during the exercise.

The 21st flight group of the 9th wing of Grazzanise (CE), however, which became part of the then NATO Tiger Club in 1968, was awarded the "Silver Tiger Trophy" both in 1998 and in 2015, while in 2021 it was awarded the equally prestigious award as the best helicopter group participating in the exercise.