The 2023 NATO Tiger Meet will take place in Italy from October 2 to 13 at the Gioia del Colle Air Base of the Italian Air Force.
It is one of the most important and complex international exercises aimed at improving cooperation and facilitating the sharing of training experiences among the Armed Forces of NATO member countries.
The “NATO Tiger Meet” – which brings together every year since 1960 the Flying Units of the various Armed Forces whose emblem features a “tiger” – was held in Italy for the first time fifty years ago (1973) at the Cameri Air Base, and then also in 1980 and 1988. After thirty-five years, Italy will host this important international training meeting again, also in conjunction with the celebrations for the Centenary of the Italian Air Force, established as an independent Armed Force in 1923.
The Gioia del Colle Air Base (BA), home to the 36th Fighter Wing, will be the meeting place for pilots and flight crews from over 10 NATO countries and partners, who will train – with operations that will affect the airspace of Puglia, Calabria and Basilicata – to improve the interoperability of assets in air defense and interdiction missions, ground support (Close Air Support – CAS) or personnel recovery in hostile environments (Personnel Recovery – PR).
This training, which in jargon is called Large Force Employment (LFE), will involve around 70 fixed-wing aircraft and 10 rotary-wing aircraft, from over 10 countries, many of which with special liveries dedicated to the Tiger Meet. In addition to units of the Italian Air Force, assets of the Italian Navy will also be used in the exercise.
In Italy, there are two members of the NATO Tiger Meet Association, both of the Italian Air Force. The 12th Flight Group of the 36th Fighter Wing – heir since 2001 of the Squadron of the “White Tigers” of the 21st Fighter Group – won the prestigious “Silver Tiger Trophy” in 2021, a recognition that is awarded to the Flight Group that distinguishes itself the most during the exercise.
The 21st Flight Group of the 9th Wing of Grazzanise (CE), on the other hand, which joined the then NATO Tiger Club in 1968, won the “Silver Tiger Trophy” both in 1998 and in 2015, while in 2021 it won the equally prestigious recognition as the best helicopter group participating in the exercise.