Albanian Air Force
|Albanian Air Force
|Allegiance||Republic of Albania|
|Part of||Albanian Armed Forces|
|Equipment||39 (helicopters) aircraft|
|Brigadier General Dhori Spirollari|
|Helicopter||AS532 Cougar, EC145, BO-105
AW109, Bell 205, Bell 206
The Albanian Air Force (Albanian: Forca Ajrore e Republikës së Shqipërisë) is the national Air Force of the Albanian military. The headquarters is located in Tirana and operates two airbases, Kuçovë Air Base and Tirana Air Base.
Military aviation started in Albania in 1914, when the Albanian government ordered three Lohner Daimler aircraft from Austria to form an air force. As a result of the outbreak of World War I, the order was cancelled. Albania did not have the resources to restart the development of a proper Air Force during the 1920s and 1930s. After the establishment of the Albanian Kingdom in 1928, King Zog formed the Royal Albanian Air Corps was formed under the direction of the Royal Albanian Army.
On 24 April 1951, Following the end of the Second World War, Albania re-established its air force.
Albania cut diplomatic ties with the Soviet Union in 1962, leading to a shift to China for the supply of necessary parts to maintain its MiGs.
After World War II, the Albanian Air Force finally came into existence when Albania was equipped with Soviet aircraft. The first squadron was equipped with Yakovlev Yak-9s. The first jet fighter to enter service was the MiG-15, dating officially the 15th of May 1955, followed by the MiG-17. Some of the MiG-15s were Soviet fighters used and then withdrawn from the North Korean Air Force. The backbone of the Albanian Air Force jet fighters became MiG-19 (NATO code "Farmer"). 12 MiG-19PM were delivered by the USSR in October 1959 and on the same year pilots and specialists were sent in USSR to train with the all-weather interceptor MiG-19 PM. After the collapse of USSR-Albanian relations, significant numbers of Shenyang J-6 fighters (Chinese copy of the MiG-19S), were acquired from China. In the early 1970s, Albania exchanged its lot of Soviet-made MiG-19PM (NATO code "Farmer-E") fighters equipped for beam-riding missiles, with 12, more advanced, Chengdu J-7A fighters (Chinese copy of the Soviet-built MiG-21). Two of them were lost in incidents in the early 1970s, eight had problems with lack of batteries in the early 1980s.
In total, during the 70s and early 80s, the Albanian Air Force was able to deploy 142 airplanes, between Shenyang J-6Cs, 12 Chengdu J-7As, a fighting squadron equipped with MiG-17s, a considerable number of MiG-15 (both BIS and UTI versions), and 4 Soviet-made Il-14 transport aircraft. A squadron of Shijiazhuang Y-5 was deployed in Tirana and the Air Force Academy in Vlora had 2 squadrons of Yak-18 for basic pilot training purposes. The helicopter component consisted in 18 Harbin Z-5 (Chinese copy of Mil Mi-4) helicopters based in Farka Tirana, meanwhile there was a single prototype of a light H-5 bomber based in Rinas.
Due to relations collapse between Albania and the Chinese, maintenance became extremely difficult and the number of deadly incidents involving Mikoyan fighters increased. Despite Albanian efforts and some initial success in repairing the engines of the MiGs, the lack of specific jet fuel forced authorities to start production in a national scale, thus resulting in a low-quality production (The first attempt dates on 1961, when the Kuçova factory produced the special Jet kerosene called TSI). The fuel conditioned the life-time of the jet engines and often was blamed as the main reason of the deadly incidents (35 Albanian pilots lost their life from 1955 to 2005 mainly due to MiG's mechanical failures).
In the early 90s, in an effort to keep the MiGs flying, the Albanian Air Force received spare parts from Bulgaria and engines from the ex-GDR. By 2004, Albania still had 117 J-6C aircraft, although mostly were not operational and only 12 Chengdu J-7A. The Albanian fighter jets were definitively withdrawn from active service in late 2004 after the last deadly incident involving a J-6C during take-off from the military area at Mother Teresa Airport in Tirana.
By 2006, Albania had scrapped over half of its Z-5s and had signed a contract for the delivery of six Bolkow 105s over three years. This expansion allowed air force to operate with 4 Y-5s, 7 B206s, 3 B205s, 6 Bolkow 105s.
In 2016, 40 retired Albanian military aircraft were prepared for auction at a future date. The aircraft for sale include a military trainer aircraft, the Yak-18, and four types of military jets — MiG-15s, MiG-17s, MiG-19s, and MiG-21s — and four Mi-4 transport helicopters. The government said there has been interest from collectors and museums, and that it will sell another 100 jets if the auction is successful. The funds generated will be used to further modernize the Air Force.
The Albanian Air Force has retired all its fixed wing aircraft and now operates several types of helicopters. Also, close NATO Integration Air defense is no longer a priority for the Abanian military.
|Bell UH-1||Italy||utility||3||licensed built by AgustaWestland|
|MBB Bo 105||Germany||light utility||8|
|AgustaWestland AW109||Italy||light utility||1|
All Albanian fixed-wing aircraft were withdrawn from active service in 2005.
|Chengdu F-7||People's Republic of China||fighter / interceptor||F-7A||11||licensed built MiG-21|
|Shenyang J-6||People's Republic of China||fighter||F-6 / FT-6||65||licensed built MiG-19|
|Shenyang J-5||People's Republic of China||fighter||F-5 / FT-5||21||derivative of the MiG-17|
|Harbin Y-5||People's Republic of China||transport||3||placed in storage|
|An-2||Soviet Union||transport||11||placed in storage|
|Il-14||Soviet Union||heavy transport||4||placed in storage|
|Bell 222||United States||VIP||222UT||1||written off in a crash|
|AS350B||France||utility||3||retired from service|
|Harbin Z-5||People's Republic of China||utility||31||licensed built Mil Mi-4|
|Alouette III||France||liaison||4||retired from service|
|Nanchang CJ-6||People's Republic of China||trainer||8|
|Shenyang FT-2||People's Republic of China||trainer||24||licensed built MiG-15UTI|
Deployment of the Albanian Air Force until 2005
|4004 Regiment||1st Squadron Nanchang CJ-6 Military Aviation Academy||Vlora|
|2nd Squadron Nanchang CJ-6 Military Aviation Academy||Vlora|
|3rd Squadron MiG-15bis, MiG-15UTI||Kucova Berat|
|4010 Regiment||1st Squadron Chengdu J-7A, Shenyang J-5||Zadrima Lezha|
|2nd Squadron Shenyang J-6C||Zadrima Lezha|
|3rd Squadron Shenyang J-6C||Zadrima Lezha|
|4020 Regiment||1st Squadron Shenyang J-6C, MiG-15bis, Ilyushin Il-14||Rinas Tirana|
|2nd Squadron Shenyang J-6C, MiG-15bis, Ilyushin Il-14||Rinas Tirana|
|4030 Regiment||1st Squadron Shenyang J-6C, MiG-15bis,||Kuçova Berat|
|2nd Squadron JJ-5, MiG-15bis||Kuçova Berat|
|4040 Regiment||1st Squadron Harbin Z-5||Farka Tirana|
|2nd Squadron Z-5||Farka Tirana|
|3rd Squadron Z-5||Farka Tirana|
|4050 Regiment||1st Squadron Y-5, AS-350, Bell 222/VIP (lost in incident 2006), Mil Mi-8||Rinas Tirana|
|Ministry of Health Aviation Unit||SA 316||Tirana Aerodrome|
- Komanda Forcave Ajrore Shqiptare
- "History of the General Staff of the Armed Forces". Albanian Armed Forces. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
- "Air Force History". Albanian Armed Forces. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
- Semini, Llazar (6 March 2016). "Albania, once Europe's most isolated country under a 50-year Communist regime, is selling dozens of obsolete Eastern Bloc military jets". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
- Lofting, Chris; Coupland, John. "Albania 2006". http://www.baes.org.uk/. British Aviation Enthusiasts Society. Retrieved 9 June 2016. External link in
- "World Air Forces 2017". Flightglobal Insight. 2017. Retrieved 19 March 2017.
- "World Air Forces 2004 pg, 42". Flightglobal I. 2004. Retrieved 4 December 2014.
- "Albanian Government ZA-HOV". airport-data.com. Retrieved 18 December 2014.
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