Albanian Air Force
Forca Ajrore e Republikës së Shqipërisë
Emblem of the Albanian Air Force
Founded1928; 96 years ago (1928)
Country Albania
TypeAir force
RoleAerial warfare
Size650 Personnel[1]
Part ofAlbanian Armed Forces
Equipment49 aircraft
(+15 on order)
40 helicopters + 9 UAVs
CommanderBrigadier General Ferdinant Dimo
Aircraft flown
HelicopterUH-60 Black Hawk, AS532 Cougar, EC145, BO-105, AW109,AS350, Bell 205, Bell 206, Bell 212

The Albanian Air Force (Albanian: Forca Ajrore e Republikës së Shqipërisë - Air Force of the Republic of Albania) is the air force of Albania and one of the branches of the Albanian Armed Forces.


Early history

An Albanian air force PT-6

In 1914 the government of Albania ordered three Lohner Daimler aircraft from Austria to form an air force. As a result of the outbreak of World War I, the order was cancelled. Albania did not have the resources to start the development of a proper Air Force during the 1920s and 1930s. After the establishment of the Albanian Kingdom in 1928, King Zog formed the Royal Albanian Air Corps under the direction of the Royal Albanian Army.

The Royal Air Force, and the rest of Albanian armed forces, were abolished following the Italian invasion of Albania.[2]

Socialist Albania

Chengdu F7s of the Albanian Airforce parked outside the hangar at Tirana airport

After World War II, the Albanian Air Force finally came into existence on 24 April 1951 when Albania was equipped with Soviet aircraft.[3] The first squadron was equipped with Yakovlev Yak-9s. The first jet fighter to enter service was the MiG-15, entering service on 15 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 Some of the MiG-15s were Soviet fighters used and then withdrawn from the North Korean Air Force.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 MiG-19 (NATO code "Farmer") became the backbone of the Albanian Air Force. 12 MiG-19PM were delivered by the USSR in October 1959 and in the same year pilots and specialists were sent in the USSR to obtain training for the new aircraft. An academy was founded in Vlorë in 1962.[3] Albania cut diplomatic ties with the Soviet Union in 1962, leading to a shift to China for the supply of necessary parts to maintain its MiGs.[4] 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 MiG-19PM fighters 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 and eight had problems with lack of batteries in the early 1980s.[citation needed]

In total, during the 70s and early 80s, the equipment of the Albanian Air Force consisted of 142 Shenyang J-6Cs, 12 Chengdu J-7As, a fighter 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 two 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.[citation needed]

Due to the collapse of relations 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 locally, resulting in low-quality production (the first attempt was in 1961, when the Kuçova factory produced the special jet fuel (a derivative of kerosene called TSI). The fuel shortened the lifespan of the jet engines and was often blamed as the main reason for several deadly incidents. 35 Albanian pilots lost their lives from 1955 to 2005, mainly due to mechanical failures with the MiG aircraft.[citation needed]

Recent history

Shenyang F-6 jet fighters of the Albanian Airforce parked at Kucove

Following the fall of communism in Albania in 1990, the air force had 200 jets and 40 helicopters, and four Il-14 transport planes.[4] In the early 1990s, 7594 Regiment became Aviation Regiment 4020, seemingly with its 1st Squadron of fighter aircraft and 2nd Squadron of FT-5s, and Y-5s (Antonov An-2s).[5] During the 1997 uprising in Albania, seven aircraft of the airforce were destroyed and their parts were stolen.[4] In the early 90s, in an effort to keep the fighter jets flying, the Albanian Air Force received spare parts from Bulgaria and engines from the ex-GDR. By 2004, Albania still had 117 J-6C aircraft, (although most were not operational) and only 12 J-7A.[citation needed] The Albanian fighter jets were finally withdrawn from active service in late 2004 after the last deadly incident involving a J-6C which crashed during take-off from the military area at Mother Teresa Airport in Tirana.[citation needed]

By 2006, Albania had scrapped over half of its Z-5s and had signed a contract for the delivery of six Bolkow 105s over three years.[6] This acquisition allowed air force to operate with 4 Y-5s, 7 B206s, 3 B205s, 6 Bolkow 105s.[6] Currently, the Albanian Air Brigade does not operate any Soviet-era aircraft. Since 2011, 9 Shijiazhuang Y-5 have been retired from service.[citation needed] In 2011, the air force sold four Il-14 transport planes for scrap.[4]

In 2016, 40 retired Albanian military aircraft were prepared for auction at a future date. The aircraft for sale include a military trainer aircraft, the Yak-18, and four types of military jets – MiG-15s, MiG-17s, MiG-19s, and MiG-21s – and four Mi-4 transport helicopters. The government said there has been interest from collectors and museums, and that it will sell another 100 jets if the auction is successful. The funds generated will be used to further modernise the Air Force.[4]



Main article: List of Albanian Air Force aircraft

The Albanian Air Force has retired all of its fixed wing aircraft and now operates several types of helicopters.

Albanian AS532 Cougar
Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk
Aircraft Origin Type In service Notes
CH-47 Chinook USA Heavy Lift 0 5 on order[7][better source needed]
Bell 206 Italy Utility 7[8]
Bell 205 Italy Utility 7[8]
Bell 212 USA-Canada Utility 1[8]
MBB Bo 105 Germany Light Utility 12[8]
Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk USA Liaison 2[9] +4 on order[1]
Eurocopter EC145 France Liaison 3[8]
Eurocopter AS350 France Utility 3
Eurocopter AS532 Cougar France Liaison 4[8]
AgustaWestland AW109 Italy Light Utility 1[8]
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
RQ-20 Puma United States UAV 6[10]
Bayraktar TB2 Turkey UCAV 3[11] +6 on order, UAV ground control station is installed in Kuçova Air Base[11]
Bayraktar TB2
RQ-20 Puma


As of November 2020, Albania Air Force operates a AN/FPS-117 Long-range radar system on Mida mountain near Pukë, which was a joined investment of Albania and the US through Lockheed Martin with $19 million coming from Albania and $3 million from the US. The radar is integrated into the NATO Integrated Air Defense System.[12]

Mobile GCS (UAV Ground Control Station)


Main article: Structure of the Albanian Armed Forces

The air force's headquarters is located in Tirana and it operates three airbases: Tirana Air Base with the national Control and Reporting Centre, which reports to NATO's Integrated Air Defense System CAOC Torrejón in Spain, Kuçovë Air Base, and Lapraka Air Base, home to the government's transport helicopters.[13]

Officer ranks

NATO code OF-10 OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1 OF(D) Student officer
 Albanian Air Force[16]
Gjeneral lejtant Gjeneral major Gjeneral brigade Kolonel Nënkolonel Major Kapiten Toger Nëntoger

Other ranks

NATO code OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
 Albanian Air Force[16]
Kryekapter Kapter Rreshter Tetar Nëntetar Ushtar IV Ushtar III Ushtar II Ushtar I


See also


  1. ^ International Institute for Strategic Studies (15 February 2023). The Military Balance 2023. London: Routledge. p. 72. ISBN 9781032508955.
  2. ^ "History of the General Staff of the Armed Forces". Albanian Armed Forces. Archived from the original on 16 August 2016. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  3. ^ a b "Air Force History". Albanian Armed Forces. Archived from the original on 17 March 2016. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d e Semini, Llazar (6 March 2016). "Albania, once Europe's most isolated country under a 50-year Communist regime, is selling dozens of obsolete Eastern Bloc military jets". U.S. News & World Report. Archived from the original on 10 August 2016. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  5. ^ Aeroflight (17 September 2004). "Aviation Regiment 4020 (7594 Regiment)". Retrieved 4 March 2023.
  6. ^ a b Lofting, Chris; Coupland, John. "Albania 2006". British Aviation Enthusiasts Society. Archived from the original on 28 May 2016. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  7. ^ "Albania Bought The CH-47 Chinook. The helicopter Used In the Iraq and Kosovo wars". YouTube. ((cite web)): Check |url= value (help)
  8. ^ a b c d e f g Hoyle, Craig (2023). "World Air Forces 2024". FlightGlobal. Retrieved 28 January 2024.
  9. ^ "2 'Black Hawk' helicopters arrive in Albania, the US embassy has a message". Gazeta Sot. 13 January 2024. Retrieved 14 January 2024.
  10. ^ "US Donates PUMA Drones to Albania's Armed Forces". ALBANIA DAILY NEWS. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  11. ^ a b "Bayraktar drones have arrived in Albania, announces defense minister". Euronews Albania. 1 March 2024. Retrieved 4 March 2024.
  12. ^ "Mida Mountain Radar has been activated. Xhaçka: We have a completed view of the Albanian Territory". Ministry of Defence. 6 November 2023. Retrieved 4 March 2024.
  13. ^ Komanda Forcave Ajrore Shqiptare Archived 13 May 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ "Struktura Forca Ajrore". Albanian Armed Forces. Retrieved 15 May 2020.
  15. ^ "Air Force structure". Albanian Armed Forces. Archived from the original on 10 August 2019. Retrieved 15 May 2020.
  16. ^ a b "GRADAT, FORCA AJRORE" (PDF). (in Albanian). Archived from the original on 28 April 2021. Retrieved 25 May 2021.