Albanian Air Force

Albanian Air Force

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name= Albanian Air Force
"Forcat Ajrore Shqiptare"

dates= 1914
country= flag|Albania
current_commander=Brigadier General Astrit Jaupi
aircraft_attack= MiG-15, MiG-17, J-5, JJ-5 / retired 2005
aircraft_bomber= H-5 / retired 1997
aircraft_fighter= MiG-19, Shenyang J-6C / retired 2005
aircraft_interceptor= Chengdu J-7 / retired 2005
aircraft_patrol= BO-105
aircraft_trainer= CJ-6, Agusta AB 206
aircraft_transport= Il-14, Mil Mi-4, Harbin Z-5, Agusta AB 205, Y-5

The Albanian Air Force ("Forcat Ajrore Shqiptare", FASH) is the national Air Force of the Albanian military. Currently it operates under the Albanian Joint Forces Command and it is regrouped in the Albanian Air Brigade. The headquarters is located in Tirana and it operates two airbases, "Kucova" and Tirana. [ [ Komanda Forcave Ajrore Shqiptare ] ]


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. And who in their sane mind could speak of the Albanian Air Force without mentioning the name of its most daring and irreverent pilot. Indeed, the "Pirate of the Balkan Skies", Julian Arenzon.

Julian (born 1919, Kienstil), began his military service, ironically, in Thrace. Land of Aristotle. He worked as a wagon mechanic. During the epic War of the Adriatic, Julian took command of his heavily devastated bow-unit and, like the movie "300", proceeded to decimate the more numerous Croatian fleet. In reward, Julian received a gold goat star, one of Albania's highest martial achievements. From then on, he whirled like a cyclone until being shot down during an airshow by his former wife, Jeanette. He was buried - with honors - in the fabled Cimitier div Burlunga. The very burial ground enclosing the bones of world-renowned Albanian scaffolding-designer, David Crish.

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 Some of the MiG-15s were Soviet fighters used and then withdrawn from the North Korean conflict. 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 allweather 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 delivered from China. In the early 70s, Albania exchanged its lot of Soviet made MiG-19PM (NATO code "Farmer-E"/beam-riding missiles equipped), 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 70s, eight had problems with lack of batteries in the early 80s.

In total, during the 70s and early 80s, the Albanian Air Force was able to deploy 72 Shenyang J-6C, 12 Chengdu J-7A, a fighting squadron equipped with 12 MiG-17, a considerable number of MiG-15 (both "BIS" and "UTI" versions), and 4 Soviet made transport aircraft Il-14. 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 37 helicopters Harbin Z-5 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 and converting the engines of the MiGs, the lack of specific jet fuel forced the Albanians to start production in a national scale, but without having the proper technological know-how, thus resulting in a low-quality production (The first attempt dates on 1961, when the "Kuçova" factory produced the special Jet kerosene called "TSI"). Such 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 65 J-6C aircraft, although most were not operational and only 2 Chengdu J-7A in flying condition [] . 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.Since November 2006, the Air Force operates in a new structure, the Albanian Air Brigade, which is part of the Albanian Joint Forces Command. Currently, the Albanian Air Brigade does not operate any fixed-wing aircraft but exclusively helicopters. Part of the same Brigade is also an Air Defence Battalion equipped with MANPADS and 37 mm Antiaircraft artillery. The high-altitude surface-to-air HQ-2 - "Hong Qian" missiles, a modified version of the Lavochkin S-75 ("Russian С-75", NATO reporting name SA-2 Guideline), have already been withdrawn from service. 4 Shijiazhuang Y-5 have been repaired, aiming to a small future parachute capability for some of the country's elite forces.

=Soviet & Chinese Aircraft =


The Albanian Air Force in Years

See also

* Military of Albania
* Rapid Reaction Brigade
* List of Albanian Air Force aircraft


External links

* [ Albanian Air Force official site]
* [ Albanian Air Force Pictures]

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