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313 Squadron Wins Silver Tiger; Poznan-Krzesiny, May 18, 2018

The NATO Tiger Meet 2018, part 3; Text and Photograph's by Alex van Noye

Besides the intensive training, the NATO Tiger Meet also concerns the social aspects of the annual meeting. It is the intention that during the Tiger Meet the audience and the participating units come closer to each other. For this reason, a spotter day was organized on May 18, and the Poznan Airshow was held on May 19 and 20.

During the Tiger Meet, the Tiger Games are traditionally held every year. The purpose of the games is fun and creating team spirit within the NATO countries. The winner of the Tiger games this year was TLG-74 from Germany. Besides the Tiger Games, a number of awards will be presented during the Tiger Meet. One of those awards is the best parody (skit). The best parody is an award for the participant who performs the best show at the Tiger Games. The intention is that this little show is accompanied by a lot of humor. The winner of this award during this year’s edition was the 1 JST from Austria. This award also includes the award for the best uniform. This award was during this Tiger Meet won by the French 11 Flottille from Landivisiau. For all photographers and spotters the award for the most beautiful painting is the most important. This year’s award was won by the Germans of TLG-74. In addition to all these awards for socializing, there is also an award for a more serious part, namely the flight performance during the COMAO missions. The award for the best flight results in the exercise was won by the 313 Squadron from the Netherlands. Finally, there is also the big overall price. The Silver Tiger Award is for the winner of the entire Tiger Meet. This year it was a very surprising result, as the 313 Squadron from the Netherlands from Volkel airbase took this award home. It is the first time in the history of the Tiger Meet that this award was won by a Dutch unit.

Captain Marvin is for the first time in his career detachment commander for the 313 Squadron. He tells about his experiences during the NTM2018. Marvin previously participated in the Tiger Meet in 2009 at Kleine-Brogel in Belgium and a year later at Volkel. Last year he also participated in Landivisiau in France. A Tiger Meet is a fun experience for a pilot, Marvin says. Everyone likes a Flag exercise. The size of the training and solidarity play a role here, especially if you have been working with these guys for a number of years. The exercise during the Tiger Meet can partly be

compared to a Frisian Flag exercise. In the morning we fly COMAO missions and in the afternoon a so-called shadow wave. For example, with the 313 Squadron we flew mini COMAO's of 16 versus 8. For the most part, the opponents were MiG-29s who flew from their home base Malbork or Su-22s who flew from Swidwin. It is really great for a Dutch F-16 pilot to fly against these classic eastern aircraft and meanwhile get threatened with eastern GBAD systems on the ground, says Marvin. These elements made the Tiger Meet in Poland unique. Training with and against Eastern systems and fighter planes makes the training very realistic. You see everything happening around you from the cockpit in real life, this is slightly different than from a simulated environment. What makes a Tiger Meet interesting is the cooperation with the participating helicopters according to Marvin. This is an element which is normally not present during a Flag exercise. During the COMAO flights, there were also CSAR elements in the scenarios. During shadow waves helicopters themselves were more in the lead during their own training sessions.

As with other exercises, the Tiger Meet has a long and extensive preparation. During the planning conferences prior to the exercise, the training goals of the unit were discussed. According to Marvin, the Netherlands wanted a Mission Commander check out. The person was an experienced 4 ship flight lead. The Tiger Meet organization takes into account as much as possible the wishes and training objectives of the participating countries. The entire exercise consisted of two weeks of intensive training in the period from May 11, until May 25. At the peak of the training, the 313 detachment consisted of 110 men. The head detachment consisted of 90 staff members, the rest were people who were part of the re-deployment. More than 2/3 of the Dutch staff present were not even of the 313 Squadron, because the unit does not even employ so many people. The rest came from the 312 Squadron from Volkel. During the briefing I have outlined the purpose of the NTM2018, therefore everyone knows why we have this annual meeting, says Marvin. I have asked everyone to join in with the tiger elements which make this meeting so special, but I have given everyone the choice to join or not. I have argued that everyone keeps to the uniform to ensure that people always walk around with a yellow shirt and at the opening ceremony we were all on tiger rags for example.

On the last evening, the so-called Trophy Night, the prizes were awarded. The beauty is that the assessment of the participating units is not judged by a jury of the organizing country, but by the units themselves according to Marvin. The detco's of the units then assess each other. Volkel took off with the most valuable toffees, the best flying unit and the Silver Tiger Trophy. Although the color is silver, it is the main prize of the Tiger Meet. The challenge trophy will return to the then organizing base Mont de Marsan next year. As it stands now, we will not fly along as 313 Squadron. After winning the trophy, we are now allowed to fly with callsign "Silver 01" for a year. We have never won this award before and are very proud of it, says Marvin. Really fantastic that we have achieved this as a team. Everyone contributed to this, not only in the detachment, but also on Volkel and on the staff. The Tiger Games are the sporting event during the NTM. Every year that is different and usually also something of folklore is taken into account. In Poland, for example, we did dragon boat racing. The Netherlands is not really a country that has a tradition of painting aircraft. We usually cannot paint more than the tail, says Marvin. Because the 313 Squadron also exists 65 years at the end of this year, the design of the Tiger Tail was adapted to this as well. Marvin concludes and says he is very proud of the Dutch result. This interview with the 313 Squadron is written with thanks to Arno Marchand.

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