4th of April 2018, on a typical gloomy grey and dull Belgian afternoon, 31 Squadron presented its new livery. The honors were taken by the squadron OPS Officer, who in turn congratulated everybody for their Tiger Spirit and work put into yet again creating another mighty fine painted F-16. Shortly after the roll out, the FA-116 made its maiden flight in the experienced hands of the commander of the 10th Tactical Wing. The design was made by Peter Verheyen and Johan Wolfs from Arte International, who are slowly reaching the '50' mark with their total amount of painted Jets. The painted FA-116 is currently number 45. Peter and Johan painted the jet in collaboration with the members of the 10 W Tac Paint Shop, who deserve all our gratitude from the squadron.
On the 18th of May, the FA-94 rolled out of the shelter nearby the Tiger Lair. Designed by 31 pilot Vrieske, the 2017 flagship holds several 'navy' references (pirates, marine roundel etc), a nod to the Nato Tigermeet being held at the French Naval Airbase of BAN Landivisiau. That afternoon, Vrieske took his own design into the sky for its maiden flight.
After 31sqn had to forfait the attendance of the 2015 Nato Tiger Meet due to operational commitments, they had to make a comeback in style. Combine that with the fact the squadron is celebrating their 65th year, FA-77 was brought to the Kleine Brogel paint shop for a meet with the seasoned team of Peter Verheyen & Johan Wolfs and their 42nd paint job. On April 22nd, during an informal event at KeeBee airbase, the CO unveiled the full tiger paint and took it airborne over the Belgian skies for the first time. On Friday the 5th of August, a fourship Tiger mission was scheduled to make a visit with the Aviation Photocrew for an air to air photoshoot behind the Bronco demo team Skyvan.
On March 6th 2013 N° 31 Squadron officially presented the specially decorated FA-106 which will be the Squadron's presentation aircraft when they will participate at the 49th NATO Tiger Meet which this year will take place at the Norwegian airbase of Orland between 17 and 28 June 2013. The unit will participate at the Tiger Meet with four F-16AM single seaters and one F-16BM twin seater fighter.
This year's special tail was again designed by Johan Wolfs and Peter Verheyen, authors of no less than 30 special decorations of Belgian military aircraft.
On September 9th, 2009 (09/09/09) in the presence of a select group of invites, the aircraft with callsign 'Blackbird' was presented in an aircraft shelter near the "Tigerslair' by CO Poesen. The FA-87, which already was the 31 flagship since 2006, got a total remake by Johan Wolfs and Peter Verheyen. It has been since 1998 that a Belgian F-16 received a full body paintjob. This year they could make an exception because 31 sqn hosted the NATO Tiger Meet 2009. For this occasion, the F-104 G Tiger "Starfighter" FX-52 was brought to Kleine Brogel Airbase and also displayed alongside the "Blackbird". Both aircraft bear witness of the rich past of 31 Squadron since its establishment in 1951.
The FA-87 carried the NTM 2004 scheme up until the 26th of August 2006, the day Johan Wolfs and Peter Verheyen repainted the tail into its current scheme. To say it with Peter Verheyens words: "the new born is simply beautiful; bedecked in black and orange with hints of brushed steel, it has suffered some battle damage but still keeps on going showing off its 31 heritage in 3D". The official 'maiden flight' took place on the 4th of September with the 'fresh' CO Rudy Verrijt in the cockpit. The new flagship was followed by a F-16BM, flown by ex demo pilot John Vandebosch, with OCU CO Peter 'Patja' Stams in the backseat to take some air-to-air pics.
The FA-94 made his first flight with the new tail on the 27th of April. The 31 squadrons CO wanted to keep the premier for the Nato Tigermeet at Turkey, leaving the Tigerfans waiting some days before they could admire another great job of Johan Wolfs and Peter Verheyen. The first flight was together with the FA-87 (Tiger tail of 2004) but the FA-87 had technical problems and had to land again. Also note the FA-94 is the same jet as the one used for the marvelous 1991 Tiger color scheme.
The FA-87 made his first flight with the new tail, made Peter Verheyen and Johan Wolfs, on the 14th of June and didn’t leave the country before the spottersday at Kleine Brogel Airbase. At the spottersday of the Nato Tigermeet at Schleswig, the FA-87 had a problem with the hydrazine tank and had to be placed in maintenance, therefor not seen at the spottersday as maintenance was placing a new hydrazine tank at that moment.
On Wednesday the 13 the latest Tiger aircraft from 31 squadron was rolled-out. The aircraft has been painted to celebrate the 50th anniversary of 31 'Tiger' Squadron and of course for the NATO Tiger Meet that takes place from June 18 till June 25th. The aircraft was first flown by the CO, Major Vl. Rudy Theys on the Wednesday afternoon on which a small 'press' and 'friends of the squadron' gathering was organized. Again a nice painting job by Johan Wolfs and Peter Verheyen.
The Roll-Out ceremony of the FA-71 '31 Tiger took place on friday, June 12th, 1998 where it had it's maiden flight by flight Cdt. Mich Kerkhofs on that rainy day. The painting scheme was designed by Johan Wolfs, who also painted some previous Tigeraircraft in 1991 and 1994. To get the painting job done he was assisted by his friend Peter Verheyen and some other people from the Kleine Brogel Paint-shop. On thuesday, June 16th, the Tigerjet was about to depart to Lechfeld for the 1998 Tigermeet, but during the start-up sequence major technical problems occured and the aircraft was grounded for some days until the necessary repairs where done. However, maintenance crews in Kleine Brogel worked very hard to get the aircraft flying again (some 16 hours is told)... and on thursday morning final tests proved to be succesfull... Then the aircraft still had to be flown to Lechfeld... and no one else then the Base Commander at that time, Col. Vl Marcel Van der Auwera made the flight to Lechfeld, presenting the aircraft to the other resident Tigersquadrons. Col. M. Van der Auwera has been a Tiger himself some years ago, (and once a Tiger always a Tiger) flying the F-104G and later the F-16A, therefore it was no surprise that he had the honour of flying the aircraft to Lechfeld.
After the major gathering at Fairford in 1991, the Nato Tiger Association lost some of its squadrons due to budget cuts and returns home to Canada and the States. However in 1994 the Tiger Association regained its spirit at the Cambrai Tigermeet. 31 Squadron made an spectacular appearence with the FA-82 Tigerjet. Although the aircraft was only painted on the tail, the quality of the artwork was outstanding, which surely helped 31 Squadron winning the Silver Tiger Trophy that year ! (besides the excellent spirit they shown, and missions they lead and flown!) The artwork on the tail was again painted by Johan Wolfs who also painted the FA-94 in 1991.
At the end of May 1991, 31 organized a contest for all those were interested in designing a Tiger-bird. The winner of that contest was Johan Wolfs, who became the regular Tigerjet designer of the squadron in the following years. The aircraft got painted for two reasons, first of all the 40th anniversary of 31 squadron and secondly for the 30th anniversary of the Nato Tigers, who gathered at Fairford RIAT that year. The colorsheme introduced on the FA-94 was at least a groundbreaking design as it combined high and low-viz Tigerstripes. A combination not seen before...
F-16's are painted with a special paint that makes the aircraft less radar-reflective, therefore repainting an F-16 is a very expensive thing. However, the Tigers of Three-One would like to keep-up with tradition, by painting a tigerstriped aircraft for the 1985 Tigermeet. Finally an answer to solve this dilemma was brought to them by W. Lippens who is the paint manufacture for the Belgian Air Force. The solution consisted of painting a special plastic coating over the grey-paint. One's the colours should be removed they just had to peel off the plastic layer, instead of completely repainting the aircraft. So be it... But then came flight-safety... and they judged that it would be to dangerous to fly the aircraft. This would take away the full spirit of the aircraft, and the project was almost cancelled, but then a compromise was made (mainly because the FA-62 was already prepared to be painted, standing in the paint shop with everything masked). The compromise was that nothing was to be painted in front of the air-intake... On friday the 21th the painters started to apply some 8 coats of the plastic primer. After the weekend, on monday 24th, the yellow base was sprayed. After this was completely dry, the tigerstripes could be painted. This was done by 'Guy' Truyens, J.P. Van Regenmortel and Danny Coremans. On Thursday that week, the aircraft was brought over to the Alpha Zone, home of Three-One squadron. There it was placed in a locked shelter, waiting to be used for the upcoming Tigermeet next week.
The FX-52 was the first completely "tigered" fighter of 31 Squadron during Kleine Brogel's Tiger Meet in 1978. This Lockheed F-104G Starfighter, Tail Number FX-52, was originally manufactured by the SABCA company in Belgium. It served well with the Belgian Air Force for a great many years. Taken of charge by the Air Force on 21st May 1964, the FX-52 was withdrawn from use in June 1983 and has a total flying time of 3026 hours 9 minutes. It was also involved in a mid air collision with another F-104G. The FX-52 colided with the FX-11 wich was controlled by Major Theeuwen. The FX-11 exploded and Major Theeuwen unfortunelately died in the crash. As for the FX 52, it had a damaged wing and a bored tank... The FX-52 resided at Niederrhein Airport fir several years, where it was being restored to its original Tiger colors by Dirk Bellens and Henk de Jongh. The roll-out of the restored Starfighter symbolically happened during the Nato Tigermeet of 2009 at its homebase, 31 sqn at Kleine Brogel.