Fliegerstaffel 8 ‘Vandalos’ completed its last Wiederholungskurs at Meiringen in March, for which F-5E J-3073 received commemorative tail markings featuring the legend ‘Adios Vandalo’ (Goodbye Vandalos) to bid farewell to the squadron. Fliegerstaffel 6 ‘Ducks’ will participate in its last repetition course at Payerne in May. The Ducks will also apply special tail markings to one of its F-5E aircraft.
Mathias Graegel

Meiringen is the only operational Schweizer Luftwaffe Air Base still conducting fast jet operations from underground aircraft shelters built into the mountain side. Each cavern houses a classified number of aircraft and all necessary material for flying operations.

Between March 6 and 24 Flugplatz Kommando 13 (Flpl Kdo 13 or Airbase Command 13) conducted its regular Wiederholungskurs (Repetition Course). The command’s primary aviation component is Fliegergeschwader 13 (Air Wing 13) with two main elements assigned; F-5E Tiger II-equipped Fliegerstaffel 8 ‘Vandalos’ (Fighter Squadron 8) and F/A-18C Hornetequipped Fliegerstaffel 11 ‘Tigers’.

Wiederholungskurs is an annual event involving high-intensity training with one week of lectures and two weeks of flying, including night flying by the F/A-18C Hornets; the F-5E Tiger II is no longer capable of flying night missions.

Most of the training undertaken during Wiederholungskurs is completed by reservist F-5E Tiger pilots, most of whom are not professional military personnel, but hold civilian jobs that are not mandatory aviation-related. During the three-week course, reservist pilots fly the F-5E Tiger II, mostly in an aggressor role against the Hornets, and conduct live firing at the Axalp-Ebenfluh range.

There are currently 26 F-5E Tiger IIs remaining in the Schweizer Luftwaffe fleet assigned to three militia squadrons – Fliegerstaffel 6 ‘Ducks’ (Payerne), Fliegerstaffel 8 ‘Vandalos’ (Meiringen) and Fliegerstaffel 19 ‘Swans’ (Sion) – as well as the Patrouille Suisse until 2025. All three F-5E squadrons will disband by the end of 2017. Rumours suggest all 26 remaining F-5Es might then be pooled in a single squadron and the Patrouille Suisse.