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How much time, money is needed to rebuild Soviet MiG airbase for F-35, F-16?

5 March, 2024 Tuesday
20:17

In Albania, the Soviet air base was refurbished to NATO standards, and has already been tested by American fighter jets

Albania has opened a renovated airbase in Kucova, which will now host NATO aircraft. Italian Eurofighters and American F-16s and F-35s flew in to inaugurate the base, which had previously been used by Soviet and Chinese-made aircraft, Defense Express reports.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the Albanian Air Force consisted mostly of Chinese copies of Soviet aircraft - MiG-21, MiG-19 and MiG-17 - the latter of which were decommissioned in the mid-2000s.

After the reconstruction, the airbase, with a runway length of almost 2 km, will be able to support both NATO logistics missions and air operations or exercises. According to official figures, the reconstruction of the base cost 50 million euros ($54 million) and took about two years to complete.

For Ukraine, this is a rather interesting aspect, as it involves transforming a conventional Soviet-standard airfield into a NATO-standard one. For example, instead of the traditional concrete, a solid surface was laid.

But of course, this is not all the work, as we are also talking about the setting up of the ground-based radar, navigation, fuel, technical and maintenance infrastructure.

It should be noted that the Albanian Air Force does not currently operate jet fighters, but as a NATO member since 2009, the country is ready to cooperate with its allies because of the threat from Russia. In addition, Albanians have tense relations with the Kremlin's traditional ally, Serbia.

"This is a base that (will add) another element of security for our Western Balkans region which we all know that it is a region endangered from the threat and neo-imperalist ambitions of the Russian Federation," Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said during the opening ceremony.

  • In January, Albania received its first two used Black Hawk helicopters. This happened more than 3.5 years after the agreement was signed.
  • In early March, Albania became the 25th country to operate Bayraktar TB2 drones. The Albanians signed a contract for nine of these UAVs in December 2022. They have now received the first batch of three drones and a control station. 
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