Albanian Air Force

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Albanian Air Force
Forca Ajrore Shqiptare
Albanian Air Forces.svg
Albanian Air Force emblem
Active 1914–present
Country Albania
Allegiance Republic of Albania
Type Air Force
Size 3,100 personnel
Part of Albanian Armed Forces
Equipment 21 (helicopters) aircraft
Commanders
Current
commander
Brigadier General Dhori Spirollari
Insignia
Roundel Albanian Air Force roundel.svg
Aircraft flown
Helicopter AS532 Cougar, EC145, BO-105
AW109, Bell 205, Bell 206

The Albanian Air Force (Forca Ajrore Shqiptare, FASH) is the national Air Force of the Albanian military. The headquarters is located in Tirana and it operates two airbases, Kuçova Air Base and Tirana Air Base.[1]

History

Military aviation started in Albania in 1914, when the Albanian government ordered three Lohner Daimler aircraft from Austria to form the Royal Albanian Air Corps. 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 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 Some of the MiG-15s were Soviet fighters used and then withdrawn from the North Korean Air Force.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. As of 2004, Albania still had 117 J-6C aircraft, although mostly were not operational and only 12 Chengdu J-7A.[2] 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. Currently, the Albanian Air Brigade does not operate any old Soviet aircraft. Since 2011, 9 Shijiazhuang Y-5 are retired from service.

Aircraft

Current inventory

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 Albanian military.

Albanian Agusta AB-205A-1
Albanian Air Force Chengdu F-7A
Albanian Air Force AS532
A retired F6 at Kuçovë Air Base
Type Origin Role Variant In service[3] Notes
Helicopters
AS532 France transport 4[4]
MBB Bo 105 Germany light utility 8
AB 205 Italy utility 3
AB 206 Italy utility 5
AW109 Italy light utility 1
EC145 France liaison 3[5]

Retired aircraft

All Albanian fixed-wing aircraft were withdrawn from active service in 2005.

Type Origin Role Variant In service Notes
Combat Aircraft
Chengdu F-7 People's Republic of China fighter / interceptor F-7A 11[6] licensed built MiG-21
Shenyang J-6 People's Republic of China fighter F-6 / FT-6 65[6] licensed built MiG-19
Shenyang J-5 People's Republic of China fighter F-5 / FT-5 21[6] derivative of the MiG-17
Transport
Harbin Y-5 People's Republic of China transport 3[6] placed in storage
An-2 Soviet Union transport 11[6] placed in storage
Il-14 Soviet Union heavy transport 4[6] placed in storage
Helicopters
Bell 222 United States VIP 222UT 1[6] written off in a crash[7]
AS350B France utility 3[6] retired from service
Harbin Z-5 People's Republic of China utility 31[6] licensed built Mil Mi-4
Alouette III France liaison 4[6] retired from service
Trainer Aircraft
Nanchang CJ-6 People's Republic of China trainer 8[6]
Shenyang FT-2 People's Republic of China trainer 24[6] licensed built MiG-15UTI

Deployment of the Albanian Air Force until 2005

Unit Type Location
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

See also

References

  1. Komanda Forcave Ajrore Shqiptare
  2. BAES Albania 2006
  3. World Air Forces 2016. Flightglobal International. 2015. p. 11.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. http://www.janes.com/article/45814/albania-receives-final-cougar-helicopter
  5. "Steps towards modernization of the Armed Forces". http://www.aaf.mil.al/. External link in |website= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 6.00 6.01 6.02 6.03 6.04 6.05 6.06 6.07 6.08 6.09 6.10 6.11 "World Air Forces 2004 pg, 42". Flightglobal I. 2004. Retrieved 4 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Albanian Government ZA-HOV". airport-data.com. Retrieved 18 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links