Thunder Tigers

Thunder Tigers (a four-ship formation of F-16AM fighters – FA-136, FA-95, FA-102 and FA-126 of the Belgian Air Component), performing a flying display during the Belgian Air Force Days 2023, Kleine-Brogel, September 2023.

The Thunder Tigers is an unofficial display team of the Belgian Air Component (Luchtcomponent / Composante air, commonly referred to as the Belgian Air Force, BAF), consisting of four General Dynamics F-16AM Fighting Falcon jets.

For many years, combat aircraft from No. 31 ´Tiger´ Squadron of the BAF, stationing at Kleine-Brogel air base, supported the nearby-organized Sanicole International Airshow with flypasts and formation flight performances. Within the years, their displays became one of the highlights of the show.

What made those displays unique – and markedly different from the show performed by the official BAF F-16 Solo Display Team – was the displays flown by the 31st Squadron were done by full-time operational fighter pilots in their combat jets.

Nowadays, the Thunder Tigers are the sole Viper group display in Europe. Their standard show is performed by the formation of four aircraft. The display usually lasts about ten minutes and includes slow- and high-speed passes, combat manoeuvres and eye-catching formation breaks.

The Thunder Tigers display performed over the Kleine-Brogel air base during the 2023 edition of the Belgian Air Force Days was particularly unique. The Viper formation included the FA-95 aircraft that just reached its structural design limit of 8,000 flying hours. Therefore, it meant the last flight for this particular aeroplane that was officially withdrawn from active service shortly after that display.

In addition, it was also the final public performance of the X-Tiger – the FA-136 jet that, in 2021,  received a special ´tiger livery´ to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the 31st Squadron and the 60th anniversary of the NATO Tigers Association. In October of 2023, the aircraft went to SABCA maintenance grounds for an overhaul. It also meant removal of the special livery and restoration of standard BAF camouflage.

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