15-26 April 2013
Leeuwarden Air Base, Netherlands
In a similar style to last year, European military airmen gathered in northern Holland to train for realistic combat operations flying two sorties a day spread over two weeks. This year participants were slightly reduced with the United Kingdom and Finland deciding not to attend. However, Leeuwarden and hundreds of enthusiasts witnessed arrivals from Belgium, Poland and the Netherlands (F-16s), Germany (Typhoons), France (Mirage 2000 and F1CRs) and Sweden (Gripens). Other participants included a civilian agency Learjet 36A from Skyline Aviation and the Dutch Hercules providing a slow moving target for interceptions. Other command and control assets deploy from their home bases.
This year's NATO Tiger Meet was hosted at BA103 Cambrai and enjoyed bright weather on nearly all days except the Spotter's Day on which I visited.
The event was also lessened by the withdrawal of squadrons from Belgium, Norway, Hungary and The Netherlands due to ongoing activities in Libya and the impact of the financial crisis. However, it was great for those who came, particularly welcome were the Turkish, Greek, Polish and Portuguese contingents, all fielding F-16s of various versions.
This year's Farnborough show was dominated by Boeing with their 787 Dreamliner. this was the first appearance outside the USA. It was disappointing to all that it only stayed from Sunday to Tuesday with only one proper flying demonstration to invited guests. If anything, the first impression is of a very stylish, smooth, airframe though it seems stunted and small compared to the endless artist's impressions. Another UK newcomer was the Airbus 330 Freighter and the A400, fresh from IAT. The F-22 Raptor flew in and was highly agile for such a large aircraft. Other fast jets included the Typhoon, F-16 and F-18, all of which displayed with underwing stores showing that they can 'mix it' effectively without a clean wing.