An XT-ROAR-DINARY paint for an extraordinary event, our F-16 2021 XTM X-Tiger is now ready to prowl the skies.
Taken on Jul. 20, 2021 by our friend Andrew Timmerman from Finn Aviation Photography, the cool photos in this post feature the new Belgian Air Component “Tiger” F-16. Dubbed 2021 XTM X-Tiger, the aircraft belongs to 31st Tiger Squadron based out of Kleine-Brogel Air Base.
According to 31TIGERSQN.BE “On Friday the 16th of July at 10 am, the freshly painted FA-136 “X-Tiger” took the skies. A design created by Johan Wolfs and executed by the KeeBee paintshop and plotter section.
“An XT-ROAR-DINARY paint for an extraordinary event, our 2021 XTM X-Tiger is now ready to prowl the skies.”
As Timmerman explained, the ‘31st Tiger Squadron has been active since the 1st October 1951 and they are celebrating their 70th anniversary this year. There will be a special X tiger event that’s going to be held from the 7th-14th September this year and is also the weekend of the International Sanicole Airshow. Will be several participating members of the NATO Tiger Association joining the exercise so can be sure of some special things for the airshow.’
Last October the Belgian Air Component unveiled an F-16 featuring a special painted tail to celebrate 45 years of Multi National Fighter Program (MNFP).
The MNFP was created in June 1975 following the decision by Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Norway (the so called European Participating Governments, EPG) to purchase the F-16.
These countries identified a clear requirement for a new fighter aircraft. At the same time, there was a need to meet the NATO standard which provided an incentive for a common aircraft among these air forces. The decision in June 1975 by the EPG, to purchase the F-16 air combat fighter created the F-16 multinational aircraft program. While the European governments purchasing the F-16s are known as the EPG, the air forces flying and maintaining the aircraft are part of the European Participating Air Forces (EPAF).
The F-16 evolved from a 1972 USAF Lightweight Fighter prototype program which sought a small, lightweight, low cost, air superiority day fighter designed for high performance and ease of maintenance.
The EPG was a strong influence which turned the Lightweight Fighter Program into a serious multi-facetted acquisition program. Because the four EPG countries, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Norway, were good NATO allies of the US and looked to upgrade their F-104G Starfighter interceptor, the option to acquire the F-16 made sound financial sense.