NATO confirms to Faktoje that Kuçova tactical air base, with an investment of 50 Million Euros, is set to become operational by spring. Beyond the exceeded deadlines for this investment, experts highlight the importance that NATO’s first air base in Albania will have for the security of the entire region.
In January 2022, NATO initiated the reconstruction of the Kuçova Tactical Air Base. The former base from the communist era, built with volunteer labor in 1952, will serve to Atlantic Alliance operations seven decades later.
The decision of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to construct its initial airbase in Albania was announced in the summer of 2018. Six years later, according to NATO, this base is only lacking a few details to be officially inaugurated.
‘The construction is expected to be finished by the end of January; the completed infrastructure will be handed over to the Ministry of Defense of Albania upon the completion and acceptance of the final certification and upon putting into operation. This is highly likely to happen very soon, within the first quarter of 2024’, confirms an official from the Atlantic Alliance to Faktoje.
The 3D project of the NATO Air Base in Kuçova
For the Ministry of Defense, the opening and inauguration of Kuçova air base are closely connected to two key elements.
;…with the completion of the entire NATO investment and the implementation of a series of projects that are part of the obligations of the Albanian side as an integral part of this investment’ clarifies the ministry, following a request for information rights.
A NATO official informed Faktoje that the airbase will serve multiple purposes and offer operational advantages.
‘After completion, the base will play a crucial role in facilitating NATO’s air operations (such as Greek and Italian air policing activities and supporting NATO’s Early Warning and Air Control Force missions over Albanian territory),’ he emphasized.
The establishment of this base 15 years after Albania joined NATO goes beyond the individual interests of a single state.
‘As a member state of the largest Political-Military Alliance, the Albanian state and the Armed Forces of the Republic of Albania, through this ongoing investment, will offer NATO an airbase equipped with modern infrastructure and capabilities, adhering to contemporary standards. This will facilitate the deployment of Alliance air assets or even our own air assets in various scenarios, be it for training operations or other missions in the interest of the Alliance’, states the Ministry of Defense
Colonel Dritan Demiraj, Former Commander of the Special Forces, emphasizes the importance of establishing the base for the security of the entire region.
‘In my opinion, the significance of this base is substantial, as, in addition to the American naval and air military bases in Greece, it can serve as an advanced operational base to support NATO forces with special forces units. Albania currently hosts the NATO SO Task Group for these missions’ stated Colonel Dritan Demiraj.
According to him, Kuçova base can also serve for the supply of various NATO air assets en-route to other locations near conflict zones, the organization of Air Task Forces for Special Forces units (ASOTU), and air assets that may be on Search and Rescue missions, among other roles.
Another crucial element, according to the Colonel, is the fact that the establishment of the base strengthens Albania’s role within the Alliance, and consequently, its international political support.
Kuçova Air Base will play a significant role in facilitating the air operations of the Atlantic Alliance.
NATO’s investment of around 50 Million Euros in this base included the construction of armament depots, fuel depots, ammunition stations, aircraft parking, emergency and firefighting stations, as well as the reconstruction of the runway and control tower. The works were supposed to be completed in the fall of the previous year, but the deadlines were not met.
‘In the first week of January, we will be ready to inaugurate Kuçova Air Base’, stated the Defense Minister Niko Peleshi while introducing the defense budget for 2024 to the Parliamentary Security Commission.
Even at the beginning of January, Kuçova Air Base was not ready for inauguration, as declared by Minister Niko Peleshi.
Edited by Keta & Aimona Vogli