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NATO Tiger meet returns to Italy

NTM 2023 patch

Thirty-five years after the last time, next October Italy will host the exercise involving around 80 aircraft from over 10 countries, deployed at Gioia del Colle airport, home of the 36th Wing “Caccia”of the Italian Air Force.

The 2023 edition of the NATO Tiger Meet will be held from October 2nd to 13th at the Italian Air Force's Gioia del Colle military airport. This is one of the most important and articulated international exercises, that aims to sharpen cooperation and facilitate the sharing of training experiences among the Armed Forces of the Allied Countries.

The NATO Tiger Meet – which, every year since 1960, brings together the Flight Groups of the various Armed Forces whose emblem bears a "tiger" –, was first held in Italy fifty years ago (1973) at the Cameri military base, and then again in 1980 and 1988. Thirty-five years later, Italy will once again host this important international training meeting, also in conjunction with the celebrations for the centenary of the Italian Air Force, which was established as an autonomous armed force in 1923. The Gioia del Colle air base (Bari), home to the 36th Wing “Caccia”, will host pilots and flight crews from over 10 NATO countries and their partners. With operations that will involve the airspace of Puglia, Calabria and Basilicata, in Southern Italy, the exercise will be useful to perfect the interoperability of assets in defence and air interdiction missions, provide support to troops on the ground (Close Air Support, CAS) or search and recovery of personnel in a hostile environment (Personnel Recovery - PR). This “Large Force Employment (LFE)” training will involve around 70 fixed-wing and 10 rotary-wing aircraft from over 10 nations, with special liveries dedicated specifically to the Tiger Meet. In addition to Italian Air Force units, Italian Navy assets will also be deployed in the exercise.

In Italy, there are two members of the NATO Tiger Meet Association, both from the Air Force. The 12th Flight Squadron of the 36th Wing "Caccia", heir to the “White Tigers” from the 21st Fighter Squadron since 2001, in 2021 won the prestigious "Silver Tiger Trophy”, an award given to the Flight Group that distinguishes itself most during the exercise. The 21st Flight Squadron of the 9th Wing of Grazzanise, which joined the then 'NATO Tiger Club' in 1968, won the "Silver Tiger Trophy” in both 1998 and 2015, while in 2021 it won the prestigious award as the best helicopter group participating in the exercise.