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NATO Tiger Meet  BAN Landivisiau,  27 June 2008

The 44th NATO Tiger Meet was held this year at French Navy Base Landivisiau. The organization did a great job by organizing a large spottersday on one of the operational flying days. At first I didn't plan to visit the spottersday this year, but as my travel partners had a spare seat in the car and registration was reopened again I decided to go there as well.


In the early evening of Thursday the 26th Mo, Fred and I departed towards  Brittany where we arrived only nine hours later. We had the plan to first have a quick look at Navy Base Lanvéoc-Poulmic, but when we arrived there it was still dark. After a very quick sleep inside the car we finally had a nice view on the ramp of Lanvéoc. Unfortunately it was still very quiet out there and only a stored HSS-1 and half a Lynx was seen on the ramp.


Around 7.15 in the morning we arrived at the car park near Navy Base Landivisiau. Here we met lots of other Dutch spotters and friends who joined us during the day. The check in was very quickly and 8.30 we entered the base.


When we entered the base the weather was very cloudy, just like weather forecast I had seen at home. This made is really hard to take the nice shots I had in mind. At first we had a quick walk along the flightlines but as the first aircraft were already starting up we decided to walk towards the area along the runway. The first aircraft that took off were three Rafales of the 12 F which departed towards NAS Patuxent River, USA. Not much later a very nice visitor came in, a MS.893 of Navy Base Lanvéoc-Poulmic. Around 10 o'clock the first wave got airborne, among them lots of jets in a very nice tiger colorscheme. The real highlights of the first wave were the French Mirage 2000 and the French Air Force Rafale which both had a very nice tiger painting. The returning of the helo-participants was also very nice. After the first wave arrived, Mike, Niels and I walked back to the flightlines to see the aircraft that didn't fly. This was also a nice opportunity to collect our lunch. Again a very big compliment to the organization, the lunch was great!


In the afternoon the weather got better. We even had some nice sunny spells, which made photography a lot easier. When we got back to our spot along the runway the first participants were just taking off. Again lots of shots were taken during their departures and arrivals. When almost all the participants were back on the ground we were surprised by some very nice arrivals. These aircraft came in for the openday which was held on Sunday. Unfortunately the French Navy Hawkeye didn't show up, so better luck next time.


There were a lot of highlights during this spottersday. My top three of the NATO Tigers are the all French. 1) Rafale B of the EC 05.330. 2) Super Etendard of the 11F. 3) N.262E of the 28F. However the real highlights for me the CAP-10's and MS.893's which arrived during the day. Around 6 o'clock in the evening we were asked to leave the airbase and we were brought back to our car. A very big thank you goes out to the organization who did a very good job and made I a well worth visit to Brittany.   (Click here for a full log)



History of the NATO Tiger Meet


The history of the NATO Tiger Meet goes way back into the early 60's. When 74 squadron first re-equipped with the Lightning in 1960, John Howe had been well aware of the US Air Force Tigers at Woodbridge, the 79th TFS of the 20TFW. Correspondence between the two units had been going on since the first contacts had been established during Keith Haselwood’s time, and occasionally a social meeting was arranged. On impulse on that, John picked up the phone to speak to his counterpart at the Suffolk base, perhaps with a subconscious idea to set the ball rolling on some sort of operational exchange rather than a purely social one so that 74 could show off their new mount. What he was not aware of at that time was that an old friend of his, Ed Rackham, had just taken command of the 79th TFS. Their meeting again after almost ten years prompted the idea of the two squadrons getting together on a regular operational basis. In 1962 the Tiger Meet was a much bigger affair and eight squadron were represented; the credit to this goes again to Mike Duggan, who had spend a large part of his time identifying Tiger Squadrons in all the European and European Based airforces. 


The RAF 74 Squadron was heavily involved in the workup for Farnborough at the time and, sadly, this commitment allowed the squadron to send only officers to observe and to participate in the social activities, although, as we have seen, it was able to display the lightning at the end of the Meet. Activity was not confined to the air, for apart from a full flying program, a series of conferences was held which dealt with a variety of problems and activities within the sphere of NATO operations. Neither were social aspect overlooked. Receptions and dinners were organized for air as well as ground crews; and at the final banquet the guest of honor was General Anderson, the SHAPE Air Deputy, who by his very presence underlined the importance of the Tiger Meet in the eyes of the Highest command. In his speech, General Anderson put into words for perhaps the first time the underlying aims and objectives of the Meet - The promotion of NATO solidarity, the achievement and maintenance of firmer professional relationships amongst NATO personnel and the creation of better understanding of NATO military objectives and the problems of NATO partners. These objectives remain as valid today as they did 46 years ago.

source: NATO Tiger Association




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