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Forcat Ajrore - Air Forces (AF)

Air Forces have as their mission the protection of the sovereignty of the Republic of Albania's air space through air and anti-air operations (Air Defense), independently and in coordination with other Services. The Concept of Operations determines how the Air Forces are organized, equipped and trained to attain the operational readiness and rapid reaction to the tasks of defending the air space. It provides the baseline for employment of the Air Forces in carrying out their mission.

Principles of the Concept of Operations include: improving operational capabilities to ensure monitoring and control of air space; fixed air defense at key strategic points; close air support and support for the transport of troops for operations of the Armed Forces; and participation in humanitarian operations, and in national SAR operations. To carry out its missions, the following are required to be developed: Air defense with mobile systems to protect forces on the battlefield, and air defense with fixed systems to protect key strategic points in the Republic of Albania.

The control of air space from an air control center, equipped with radars covering the entire territory of the Republic of Albanian which, if necessary, will have as a task to supplement the NATO air picture. Supporting Land and Navy Forces with helicopters for transport of troops, and aircraft for surveillance equipped with tools for reconnaissance operations, and for carrying out SAR operations. Meteorological service support to the Armed Forces of the Republic of Albania.

To accomplish the mission, the Air Force executes the following tasks:

  • Monitoring and control of the air space of the Republic of Albania;
  • Early warning of air threats;
  • Reaction to air space encroachments;
  • Ensuring air defense of key points in Albania.
  • Close support by transport of troops and fire in support of Land Force and Navy Force combat operations.
  • Conduct of humanitarian operations to assist the population, and Search and Rescue Operations.

Assistance in the framework of cooperation with NATO-member countries to carry out surveillance and air space protection tasks is of great importance to the Air Forces to accomplish their mission and specific programs of their modernization.

Air Forces are composed of: Headquarters Command and Staff; one multi-purpose helicopter regiment; an air defense brigade with fixed and mobile air defense systems; a Troop School; and other supporting units. Major bases of the Air Forces are in Rinas and Farka, and two reserve bases in Kuçova and Gjader.

As soon as the ruling Democratic Party of Prime Minister Sali Berisha came to power in 2005, it grounded most the air force's fleet of fixed-wing airplanes, including the MIG 19 and MIG 21 fighter jets, and sent them to scrapyards and museums.

One of the largest problems is equipment - both the lack thereof and the age of the equipment they do have. To this end, the MoD planned as of 2008 several high-profile procurements, including four patrol boats for the navy and up to 17 multipurpose helicopters for the air brigade, although both projects have seen several delays.

A lack of transparency in the Government of Albania's tender for medium-lift helicopters has caused concern. After a seemingly successful meeting with Prime Minister Berisha and new Defense Minister Imami on 16 September 2009, Sikorsky (who has advocacy rights as the sole US competitor) was stunned to receive on 14 September a letter dated September 14 cancelling the tender for medium-lift helicopters. The MoD had instead decided to offer a single-source contract to Eurocopter. US Embassy staff met with Defense Minister Imami on October 1 to share concerns over the lack of transparency and the poor treatment of Sikorsky. During the meeting, Imami moved back from his position of offering a single-source contract to Eurocopter, and agreed to contact Sikorsky and consider parallel negotiations with both companies. Imami made clear that PM Berisha is determined to finalize a contact by December 31.

On 21 December 2009 the Albanian Defence Ministry signed a contract, worth 78.6 million euros over four years, to purchase five Eurocopter AS532AL Cougars for its armed forces. Parliament approved the contract in February 2010 after the Defence Ministry asked that it speed up the approval to replace its Soviet and Chinese-made helicopter fleet that dates back to the 1960s. Air Force is developing and modernizing its technique, as well as its equipment. The personnel that will use this technique is being trained and certified according to NATO standards. The air fleet is modernized with new helicopters, when in July 2012 the VIP version EC-145 helicopter was handed over. In December 2012, the first SAR version COUGAR helicopter arrived.

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Page last modified: 25-06-2013 13:01:33 ZULU