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Arctic Tiger 2007

October 4, 2007 (by André Jans) - Between 24 and 30 September 2007, over 70 aircraft and helicopters participated in this year's edition of the NATO Tiger meet. The high tempo operations covering mid and Southern Norway, took place at Main Air Station (MAS) Örland, Norway.

BAF F-16AM #FA-87 from 31 sqn is touching down on a wet runway at Ørland AB on September 26th, 2007 during the Arctic Tiger exercise. [Photo by André Jans]

MAS Örland was constructed by the German occupation during WO.2 and also played a large role during the Cold War covering NATO's Northern flank together with MAS Bödo which is located closer to the polar circle.

As MAS Örland is located in a remote area some 60km North of Trondheim, there are only few restrictions for high speed jet operations making it an ideal exercise environment for low flying and large scale missions like sharpening NATO Tiger claws.

Host unit for Arctic Tiger at this air base was 338SKV which is operating the F-16AM fighter aircraft for the Royal Norwegian Air Force. Although still operating the A model, its combat standard has been upgraded by the recent Mid Life Upgrade (MLU).

Recently Norwegian F-16's received Sniper targeting pods, JHMCS helmets and IRIS-T short range air to air missiles making the aircraft even more effective.

Although the term Arctic promises a cold welcome and despite some bad weather days, the hosting home unit created a warm Tiger nest for all participants.

The exercise

As defense budgets have been reduced since the ending of the Cold War, also the NATO Tiger meets changed their programs. Starting as a fun event in 1960, to built team spirit amongst its members, right now the Tiger Meet really is of a high training value and contains high tempo operations justifying the costs for air forces joining these events. Also new NATO members joined the ranks and even a neutral country like Switzerland is participating now changing the content of the Tiger operations. Oldest participating unit is the French EC01.012 squadron which is taking part since 1961.

According to the Arctic Tiger exercise director, Lt.Col. Jostein "Jaws" Grönflatten, high tempo operations were obtained during Arctic Tiger based on the NATO COMAO (Combined Air Operations) strategy which contains Air Defense, Ground Assault, MedeVac and hostage rescue operations.

The flying elements were supported by NATO tankers and AWACS aircraft while Norwegian Army elements were added to act as Forward Air Controllers (FAC) for friendly forces. Other Army units also posted ground to air threats against participating aircraft making operations even more serious. Also Norwegian Special Forces covered a large share of operations when looking at the MEDEVAC and hostage rescue parts of Arctic Tiger transported by Tiger helicopters and under coverage of Tiger aircraft.

Operation areas covered Örland airspace in mid Norway (acting as friendly Nation) and Southern Norway (bad Nation). Operating helicopters were able to use a forward refueling station near Oppdal to keep their efficiency on scene time up to a maximum.
Both helicopters and jet fighters operated in large mixed packs posing Red and Blue forces in different mixtures every day. When looking at the aircraft inventory of all participating Tiger units participating flying these aircraft packs was very complex.

Combined Ops handling jets from early 1960 Greek A-7s, upgraded MLU F-16s and the last generation jet fighters like the French Rafale need a good coordination respecting each other's power and limitations when looking at armament, range, etc. All Arctic Tiger operations were handled by the Ops Center in the Air Command Unit (ACU) which was moved from Norwegian Air Force HQ to MAS Örland. All worked well which was also stated by General Sverre Diesen, the Norwegian Chief of Defense when joining his personal and meeting the Tiger guests midway the exercise.

Of course building Tiger spirit amongst personal is still a large part of the Tiger meets as all involved personal was able to join large scale post Operations sport games and related social events daily during Arctic Tiger.

Saturday 29 September hosted an Open House for the local Norwegian population (over 7000 people attending) while Sunday 30th military personal was able to join arranged Tiger games.

Participating F-16 units were:
  • 338 Skv - F-16AM/BM
  • 31 Sqn - F-16AM/BM
  • 192 Filo - F-16C/D
Sadly 313 Sqn (RnLAFL) did not participate.

Special thanks to:
  • Capt. Morten Rosenlund (Public Affairs MAS Örland)
  • Sgt. Tor Hammervik (Public Affairs MAS Örland)
  • Capt. Morten Granhaug (Norwegian Air Force)
  • Wing Commander Mark Attrill (NAT Press & PA advisor)

Additional images:

BAF F-16AM #FA-87 from 31 sqn is taxiing by the lens at Ørland AB on September 26th, 2007 during the Arctic Tiger exercise. [Photo by André Jans]

BAF F-16AM #FA-119 from 31 sqn is touching down on the runway at Ørland AB on September 26th, 2007 during the Arctic Tiger exercise. [Photo by André Jans]

BAF F-16AM #FA-119 from 31 sqn is taking off from Ørland AB during Arctic Tiger 2007 on September 28th, 2007. [Photo by Andreas Grindvoll]