The NATO air base in Albania opens

The precedent in current practice will be that it will be a base that will belong to the NATO alliance, not a member country

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Illustration, Photo: Shutterstock
Illustration, Photo: Shutterstock
Disclaimer: The translations are mostly done through AI translator and might not be 100% accurate.

The North Atlantic Alliance will ceremonially open on Monday, March 4, a remodeled air base in Albania, and the precedent in current practice will be that it will be a base that will belong to the NATO alliance, and not to a member country.

According to the Balkan Security Network portal, it is about the Kučov base, which will represent the infrastructure for NATO activities in the Western Balkans and for supporting operations in the wider area of ​​the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea region.

"That's why, through its dedicated program for investments and security, NATO spent 45,8 million euros from January 2022. Albania gave its share of about five million euros and space, the old military airport near the city of Berat, in the south of the country, which dates from the era of Enver Hoxha," the text reads.

The Kučovo base is intended to be used, if necessary, for the reception of Italian and Greek fighter planes that are in charge of protecting Albanian airspace within the NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defense System.

Also, the Italian and Greek air forces cover Montenegro and North Macedonia and both countries, as well as Albania, are required to have a base where allied fighters can land.

"At the large NATO exercises in 2021 and 2023, the rapid deployment of the American army from the continental part of the USA to the Mediterranean Sea was checked. In these activities, a special position was given to Albania, where the Americans landed in the port of Durrës and used the Biza training ground for combat training. In the future, for such exercises, Kučova will be the main base for receiving American forces and their activities in the Balkans," the text reads.

The construction of the base was started back in 1952 and was connected with the support of the USSR for the development of the Albanian People's Army as one of the supports for pressure on Yugoslav politics. That's why the Albanians got jet fighters and the Kučovo base.

By the time the base was completed in 1955, relations between Belgrade and Moscow were improving. In the early 1960s, the Albanian leadership, disappointed with the de-Stalinization of the USSR, turned to China. Chinese fighters were delivered to Kučovo and a technical overhaul institute was opened for the maintenance of all aircraft of the Albanian aviation.

"During the rebellion in 1997, civilians entered the base and broke aircraft parts and stole everything that could be taken away. After those events, the base became an open-air warehouse for old Chinese fighters that were collected for all airfields until they were sold or destroyed." is added.

After Albania turned to NATO in the 21st century, work began on that base and it received a new control tower, the runway and other areas of the airport were repaired.

Now it is a modern base with two runways 2.853 and 2.500 meters long.

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