NATO Tiger Meet 2023 Wraps Up In Italy | Aviation

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The Eurofighter 2000 Bavarian Tiger of the TaktLwG 74, winner of the Silver Tiger Trophy and the best Tiger Aircraft. (All photos: Author)

The two-week exercise ended with the traditional award ceremony, with the German TaktLwG74 winning the Silver Tiger Trophy.

The 59th edition of the NATO Tiger Meet was successfully completed on Oct.13, 2023, at Gioia del Colle Air Base, Italy. The massive exercise, at its first edition in Italy after 35 years, saw 80 aircraft from 12 countries training together in the skies of southern Italy, with 1,100 sorties and over 800 hours flown during the nine days of flight operations.

With operations involving the airspace of Puglia, Calabria and Basilicata regions and the airspace near Sardinia Island, the drills were useful to perfect the interoperability of assets in Large Force Employment (LFE) scenarios involving air defense and air interdiction missions, support to troops on the ground (Close Air Support, CAS) or search and recovery of personnel in a hostile environment (Personnel Recovery – PR).

Similarly, to other LFE exercises hosted recently in Italy, like Falcon Strike 2022 last year, the areas assigned to the exercise spun from Apulia to the Tyrrhenian Sea and gave the participants ample space to train on all assigned tasks, including stand-off attacks and Beyond Visual Range intercepts, during the two main waves that were launched every day. The employment of the weapons was simulated, with no actual ordnance (both real and inert) released at any point.

A GFD Learjet 35 equipped with a Thread Simulator Pod (TSP) provided a realistic representation of radar targets and missiles. More surface-to-air threats were replicated by using a Sirius MAADS (Medium Advanced Air Defence System) deployed to Calabria and inflatable decoys. A KC-130J and KC-767 provided air-to-air refueling, while a G550 CAEW and an E-3 AWACS provided command and control (in addition to the two E-2 Hawkeyes deployed to Gioia del Colle).

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