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Albanian Air Force
Albanian Air Force emblem

Country Albania
Allegiance Republic of Albania
Service history
Active 1914 – Today
Size 1,400 perssonel
Part of Albanian Armed Forces
Commanders
Commanders Brigadier General Dhori Spirollari
Insignia
Insignia Albanian Air Forces insignia

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]

HistoryEdit

Military aviation started in Albania in 1914, when the Albanian government ordered three Lohner Daimler aircraft from Austria to form the 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 Some of the MiG-15s were Soviet fighters used and then withdrawn from the North Korean Air Force.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.

Albanian Air Force Agusta AB-205A-1 Lofting-1

Albanian Air Force Agusta AB-205A-1

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.

Albanian Air Force Chengdu F-7A Lofting-1

Albanian Air Force Chengdu F-7A

Albanian Air Force Shenyang F-6 Lofting-1

Albanian Air Force tunnel holding obsolete Shenyang F-6

Currently, the Albanian Air Brigade does not operate any old Soviet aircraft. Since 2011, 9 Shijiazhuang Y-5 are retired from service.

5 Eurocopter AS532 Cougar are to be bought by the Albanian air force.

Aircraft InventoryEdit

See full article: List of Albanian Air Force aircraft

CurrentEdit

The Albanian Air Force has retired all its fixed wing aircraft and now operates various types of helicopters. Also, close to NATO Integration the Air defense has become a secondary priority for the Albanian military. Current plans are to reduce the manpower of the Albanian Air Force to around 1,400.[citation needed]

Aircraft Photo Origin Type Versions Quantity[3] Notes
Agusta A109 Flag of Italy.svg Italy VIP A109C 1
Agusta-Bell AB205 AB 205 Training Flag of Italy.svg Italy Utility AB205 A-1 3
Agusta-Bell AB206 Albanian Air Force Agusta AB-206C-1 JetRanger II Lofting-1 Flag of Italy.svg Italy Utility AB206 C-1 7 All retired
Eurocopter EC145 Flag of France.svg France VIP EC145 1
Eurocopter AS 532 Cougar Helicopter of the Albanian Air Force Flag of France.svg France Medium Utility AS532 AL 2 3 more on order
MBB Bo 105 Alb BO-105 Flag of Germany.png Germany Light Utility Bo 105E-4 6

RetiredEdit

All of the Albanian fixed-wing aircraft's have been withdrawn from active service in 2005.

Aircraft Photo Origin Type Versions Quantity Notes
Fighter aircraft
Chengdu F-7 Albanian Air Force Chengdu F-7A Lofting-1 China Fighter
Interceptor
F-7A 1 All 10 survivors placed in storage in May 2005
Shenyang F-6 Shenyang J-6C Albanian Air Force China Fighter F-6
FT-6
1+
2
More than 1 delivered, including a few FT-6 two-seat trainers (which were retired in 2002)
MiG-19 Flag of the Soviet Union.svg Soviet Union Fighter MiG-19PM 1 Delivered by the Soviet Union in 1959 and exchanged in 1965 with China for more Shenyang F-6
Attack aircraft
Shenyang F-5 China Light Attack F-5
FT-5
2+
1
MiG-15 Albanian Air Force Shenyang FT-5 Lofting-1 Flag of the Soviet Union.svg Soviet Union Light Attack bis
UTI
2+
1
2 delivered by the USSR in 1955, with further examples delivered by China in 1956.
Bomber aircraft
Ilyushin Il-28 Flag of the Soviet Union.svg Soviet Union Light bomber 0 Traded for a Harbin H-5 in 1971
Harbin H-5 Flag of the Soviet Union.svg Soviet Union Light bomber 0 Received in 1971, stored in 1992
Trainer
Nanchang CJ-6 Albanian Air Force Nanchang PT-6 Lofting-1 China Basic Trainer 3 1 in active service, with a further 1 planned for overhaul and return to service
Yakovlev Yak-11 Flag of the Soviet Union.svg Soviet Union Basic Trainer 0
Yakovlev Yak-18 Flag of the Soviet Union.svg Soviet Union Basic Trainer Yak-18
Yak-18A
0
1
Delivered by the USSR in 1953 and 1959
Transport
Harbin Y-5 Albanian Air Force Nanchang Y-5 Lofting-1 Transport 4 Liaison and communications; 4 remain in active service, 9 in storage
Harbin Z-5 Albanian Air Force Harbin Z-5 Lofting-3 Flag of the Soviet Union.svg Soviet Union Transport Helicopter 3 Acquired from 1967–1971, mostly copies of the Mi-4A, but including six Mi-4S VIP models; 3 remain in reserve.
Mil Mi-8 Albanian Air Force Mil Mi-17 Lofting-1 Flag of the Soviet Union.svg Soviet Union Transport Helicopter Mi-8T 0

Deployment of the Albanian Air Force until 2005Edit

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 alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

External linksEdit

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