NATO Tiger Meet, Komya - Image © Frank Togher

NATO Tiger Meet, Komya – Image © Frank Togher

This year’s NATO Tiger Meet was held at Konya Air Base, Turkey. Frank Togher reports for Flightline UK. All Photography by the author.

The choice of Turkey as the 2015 location for the 2015 Tiger Meet created a lot of interest from Tiger Enthusiasts for a number of reasons. It has traditionally seen as an unwelcoming country for Spotters and we wondered how we might be greeted.

As became apparent the timing seemed to be a problem for a number of Tiger Squadrons due to other commitments. In the end, only 7 Squadrons attended with 25  aircraft though the two French Squadrons shared 4 Rafales C/B between them. In addition a Dutch KDC-10 and the local  “Red Air” opponents consisting of 8 F16 C/D`s  from 131 Filo based at Konya participated.

The final list of Tiger participants were –

  • 192 Filo (TuAF) – eight F-16C/D
  • AEW&CS Gelsenkirchen – two E-3A Sentry`s
  • 6 ELT (Poland) – six F-16C/D
  • Staffel 11 (Swiss AF) – three F/A-18C/D
  • EC1/7 (ADLA)- four Rafale C/B
  • EC 5/330 C/B – shared aircraft with EC1/7
  • 21 Gruppo – two AB-212ICO

Arriving at Konya on the first day we were greeted by a solo F-16 Display which entertained the Spotters until the Exercise was due to begin.  With sun behind us until later in the afternoon. conditions for photography were good as we were positioned close to the taxi way.

As the display F-16C taxied in, a pair of incoming F-4E`s  performed two flypast’s before landing and taxiing past before being parked up next to the Spotters area.

Next up was a Boeing 737 AEW&C Peace Eagle  taxiing past us before take off  although we weren’t sure if this was participating in the exercise or not.

Wave 1 led by the Polish F-16 C/Ds began at ca 11:40 local time with the usual mass take off before returning just before 1400hrs local time.

Never imagined we would be eating a burger in a HAS Shelter in Turkey but that was where we were for lunch before being encouraged back outside to an ongoing display by the Turkish Stars.

By mid afternoon the sun starting to creep over our left shoulder and after discussion we were moved to a new location facing the Pan with the sun again behind us.  Great views of the aircraft taxiing out for the afternoon Wave were had.

Finally proceedings for Day 1 came to a close around 6pm local time.

The weather forecast for Day 2 threatened local thunderstorms and this was confirmed upon arriving on base as we could see the weather slowly closing in from the East. To their great credit once again the TuAF Showed great consideration for us by having a mass launch of “Red Air” and commencing a Tiger parade before the weather closed in. Again we headed back to our HAS Shelter to escape the thunder storm. Flying was scrubbed for the day shortly afterwards and at that point we returned to our hotel.

Previous Tiger Meets have often been crowded affairs with Spotters crammed into too small an area for the numbers attending. Yet here with the Turkish Air Force hosting their first event it was not so. The Spotters area was extended such that everyone had an uninterrupted view of the taxi and run ways. Additionally by allowing us to move in the afternoon such that the Sun was behind us was greatly appreciated by all.

So our thanks must go to the Turkish Air Force at Konya Air Base not just for hosting the Spotters Days but also for the considerate approach they took to having us on base. Lets hope the Spanish Air Force take note for next years event in Zaragoza