- Albanian Air Force
Infobox Military Unit
unit_name= Albanian Air Force
"Forcat Ajrore Shqiptare"
Brigadier GeneralAstrit Jaupi
MiG-15, MiG-17, J-5, JJ-5 / retired 2005
aircraft_bomber= H-5 / retired 1997
MiG-19, Shenyang J-6C / retired 2005
Chengdu J-7/ retired 2005
aircraft_trainer= CJ-6, Agusta AB 206
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 Forceof the Albanian military. Currently it operates under the Albanian Joint Forces Commandand it is regrouped in the Albanian Air Brigade. The headquarters is located in Tiranaand it operates two airbases, "Kucova" and Tirana. [ [http://www.air.mil.al/ Komanda Forcave Ajrore Shqiptare ] ]
Military aviation started in
Albaniain 1914, when the Albanian government ordered three "Lohner" Daimleraircraft from Austriato 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 Forceduring 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.
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 May1955, followed by the MiG-17. Some of the MiG-15s were Sovietfighters used and then withdrawn from the North Koreanconflict. The backbone of the Albanian Air Force jet fighters became MiG-19, NATOcode "Farmer". 12 MiG-19PM were delivered by the USSRin October 1959 and on the same year pilots and specialists were sent in USSRto train with the allweather interceptor MiG-19 PM. After the collapse of USSR- Albanian relations, significant numbers of Shenyang J-6fighters (Chinese copy of the MiG-19S), were delivered from China. In the early 70s, Albania exchanged its lot of Sovietmade MiG-19PM ( NATOcode "Farmer-E"/ beam-riding missilesequipped), with 12, more advanced, Chengdu J-7A fighters (Chinese copy of the Sovietbuilt 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 Sovietmade transport aircraft Il-14. A squadron of Shijiazhuang Y-5 was deployed in Tiranaand the "Air Force Academy" in Vlorahad 2 squadrons of Yak-18for basic pilot training purposes. The Helicoptercomponent consisted in 37 helicopters Harbin Z-5 based in "Farka" Tirana, meanwhile there was a single prototype of a light H-5 bomberbased in "Rinas".
Due to relations collapse between
Albaniaand the Chinese, maintenance became extremely difficult and the number of deadly incidents involving Mikoyanfighters increased. Despite Albanian efforts and some initial success in repairing and converting the engines of the MiGs, the lack of specific jet fuelforced the Albaniansto 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 kerosenecalled "TSI"). Such fuelconditioned 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 Bulgariaand 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 [http://www.baes.org.uk/reports/albain06.htm] . 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 Airportin 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 Brigadedoes not operate any fixed-wing aircraft but exclusively helicopters. Part of the same Brigadeis also an Air Defence Battalionequipped with MANPADSand 37 mm Antiaircraftartillery. The high-altitude surface-to-air HQ-2- "Hong Qian" missiles, a modified version of the Lavochkin S-75 ("Russian С-75", NATOreporting name SA-2 Guideline), have already been withdrawn from service. 4 Shijiazhuang Y-5 have been repaired, aiming to a small future parachutecapability for some of the country's elite forces.
Soviet& Chinese Aircraft=
The Albanian Air Force in Years
Military of Albania
Rapid Reaction Brigade
List of Albanian Air Force aircraft
* [http://www.air.mil.al Albanian Air Force official site]
* [http://www.xairforces.net/gallery.asp?id=34 Albanian Air Force Pictures]
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