Arctic Tiger 2007
On Target and the Cottesmore Aviation Group visited Ørland in Norway at the end of September for this year’s NATO Tiger Meet.


Arctic Tiger Meet 2007

Words by Martin Keen, photography by Michael Hall and Andrew Jewson.


Located near Trondheim, in the middle of Norway, is Ørland Military Air Station; the crisp Polar light combined with an area surrounded by fjords and mountains provided a rather special venue for the 2007 NATO Tiger Meet.  Appropriately re-named as 'Arctic Tiger', this was the first occasion that the NATO Tiger Association flying event has taken place in Scandinavia. The now common problems of shrinking defence budgets, combined with on-going commitments in Afghanistan and the Middle East, have taken a heavy toll on the availability of assets for large scale, multi-national exercises. However, the NATO Tiger Meet has a varied and widespread membership, going someway to counter-act these difficulties.


F-16 Orland 192 Mirage 2000 12-YB F-16 Orland 686

 

The Exercise

Two Exercise Restricted Areas (ERA) were allocated for the exercise – one was located to the north of Ørland MAS and the other to the south with daily weather conditions dictating with area was allocated to each mission. The northern area was almost rectangular and about 200 miles wide, extending along the cost of Norway up to Bodo MAS and covered both land and sea. The southern ERA was a box of 400 square nautical miles, from the coast south of Ørland MAS and overland. With an absence of civil traffic in these areas, the vertical limits of each area extended from ground level to 50000ft and offered all participants a unique opportunity to fly in a large and safe whilst area.

The exercise scenario was based on the familiar humanitarian theme involving a dispute escalating into warfare between three fictitious nations; Valhall, bordered by Loke in the north and Fenris to the south, two countries that possessed unstable governments and regimes. A long period of uneasy peace had been broken at the turn of the Century and since 2001 there has been an increase in ethnic tensions and border disputes. A United Nations brokered security arrangement for Valhall had been established previously, but a UN Security Resolution had subsequently been issued in February 2007 and, more recently, NATO forces had been called in to reinforce the Host Nations meagre Armed Forces.

The first day of operations was devoted to the rescue of United Nations hostages, with a Non-Combatant Evacuation Operation (NEO) taking place. Ground forces, including a sizeable Special Forces element, were both air-dropped from C-130s and flown in by helicopter to conduct the rescue, while air assets carried out close air support. The second day focused on medical evacuation of both military and civilian casualties, an event which generated a considerable amount of media attention and local interest, given the particular role played by the National airline, Scandinavian Airlines System, in providing a specially equipped Boeing 737 for part of the operation.


F-16 Orland 93-0695


Day three concentrated upon combat search and rescue to successfully retrieve downed aircrew. The penultimate day was dedicated to direct assault, while the fifth and final day involved full scale tactical operations to impose the United Nations peacekeeping mandate.

All flying operations were overseen by a NATO Boeing E-3A Sentry, which monitored and updated the participants within the ever changing scenario.

The helicopter force was composed of five Norwegian Bell 412s, a pair of RAF Puma HC.1s and a single Fleet Air Arm Merlin HM.1 for assault airlift. These were supported by two Czech Mil Mi-24V Hinds, operating daily from a forward location. In total there were fifty-six fighter aircraft present, including the F-16, F-18, Rafale, Mirage F.1, Mirage 2000 and A-7. The German Tornadoes did not participate in the flying missions, but the two JBG32 aircraft flew a short local mission. In support were examples of the Mystere 20 ECM & C-130H and two NATO E-3s, which collectively flew more than five hundred sorties. Mission packages were designed to practice conventional ground attack, including close air support, as well as air superiority. No weapons were carried, as all engagements and aerial attacks were simulated. The morning launch numbered between 40 to 50 participants, while slight fewer aircraft operated during the afternoon launch. An average mission lasted around two hours; however the final mission included an aerial refuelling element supplied by a 100th ARW KC-135R, operating from RAF Mildenhall.


Merlin Orland ZH885 Hind Orland 7356 Hind Orland 7356

 

Arctic Tiger

Over the previous decades the Tiger Meet has established a tradition for colourful, even flamboyant, colour schemes and the 2007 event certainly upheld this with a total of 18 aircraft and helicopters attending with schemes ranging from a small scale grey tiger motif, to a number with extensive, all-over colourful schemes.

The French normally participate with the most complex artwork on their aircraft, and this year they didn’t disappoint with impressive schemes on types such as the Mirage 2000C, Rafale and Super Etendard:

The Mirage 2000C from EC 01.012 carried a very smart black/yellow/silver paint scheme whilst the Rafale B, from EC 05.330, appeared with a nicely detailed arctic colour scheme with two different tigers on the tail section, and snow on the trailing edge of the wings & canards. Undoubtedly though it was the pair of Aeronavale Super Etendard's, from 11 Flottille, that were judged by many to be the real stars of the event - both 'Super E's' were painted in an eye catching gloss white with black tiger stripes scheme.


Mirage 2000 Orland 12-YB Mirage 2000 Orland 12-TB tail Mirage 2000 Orland 12-YA

Rafale Orland 7-HY Rafale Orland 330-EC Rafale Orland 330-EC tail

Super Etendard Orland 62 Super Etendard 62 Super Etendard 62

Super Etendard 62 Super Etendard 62 Super Etendard 62


Other notable schemes included a pair of Turkish Air Force F-16s, the tails painted with snowball throwing Tigers and 338 Skv, the hosts, applied a pleasing black/grey/white toned tiger on the tail of an F-16BM, and three sections of 'peeled' paint on the fuselage and the vertical lower fin revealing the tiger's skin.


F-16 Orland 192 F-16 Orland 192 tail F-16 Orland 192

F-16 Orland 692 F-16 Orland F-16 Or;and 692

F-16 Orland 674 F-16 Orland FA-87 F-16 Orland J-93-0696

F-18 Orland J-5011 F-18 Orland J-5011 F-18 Orland J-5012


Future events could become even more varied. The Tiger Association is discussing expansion with some of the newer NATO members; amongst those with a tiger heritage are F-16C equipped 3.elt, Polish AF, Gripen equipped 211.tl Czech AF and Hungary’s 1.VSz, also with the Gripen.

Initially it was thought the 2008 Tiger Meet would be hosted by JbG32 at Lechfeld, Germany; however this has now changed to Landivisiau, France, during 22nd-30th June.


A-7 Orland 160728 A-7 Orland 160728 A-7 Orland 15645

F-18C Orland 15-15 F-18CE Orland 15-06 F-18C Orland 15-26

Mirage 2000 Orland 12-YP Mirage 2000 Orland 12-YA Mirage 2000 Orland 12-YA

Mirage F.1C Orland 14-64 Mirage F.1C Orland 14-10 Mirage F.1C Orland 14-70

 

'Arctic Tiger' 2007 Participants

Member
Nation
Aircraft
Comments
       
338 Skvadron

Norway

F-16AM

 

Fliegerstaffel 11

Switzerland

F-18C/D

Winner of Best Painted Aircraft award

814 NAS

UK Fleet Air Arm

Merlin HM.1

 

230 Sqn

UK Royal Air Force

Puma HC.1

 

512 Staffel

Germany

Tornado

 

335 Mira

Greece

T/A-7E

 

31 Smaldeel

Belgium

F-16AM

Winner of Silver Tiger award

EC 01.012 'Cambresis'

France

Mirage 2000C

Winner of Best Flight Suit award

EC 05.330 'Cote d’Argent'

France

Rafale

 

231.VrLt

Czech Republic

Mi-24 Hind

 

151 Escadre

Spain

EF-18A

 

142 Escadre

Spain

Mirage F-1CE

Winner of Best Tiger Skit award

1 Sqn

NATO AEWF

E-3A

Winner of the Tiger Games award

192 Filo

Turkey

F-16C/D

 

321 Staffel

Germany

Tornado ECR

Present Friday & Open Day

11 Flottille

France

Super Etendard

Present Friday & Open Day

301 Esquadra

Portugal

F-16A

Present Friday & Open Day

330 Skv

Norway

Sea King Mk43

Guest Participant

335 Skv

Norway

C-130H

Guest Participant

720 Skv

Norway

Bell 412SP

Guest Participant

SAS Sqn

Norway

Boeing 737

Guest Participant

351st ARS 100th ARW

USAF

KC-135R

Operated from RAF Mildenhall

 

Tornado Orland 4648 Tornado Orland 4648

Sea king Orland 74-2

 

On Target would like to thank Major Øivind Wathne and all at 338 Skv Public Relations for their generous hospitality. A special thank you also goes to Wing Commander Mark Attrill, the NTA's Public Affairs and Press officer, for his kind assistance.  

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© On Target Aviation 2008