Albania's graveyard of MiGs to become NATO air base
KUCOVA, Albania: Long the graveyard of its once mighty air force, Albania’s base at Kucova is set to become a NATO station - to the delight of its former airmen longing to hear the engines roar again.
Albania retired its 224 Soviet- and Chinese-made MiGs in 2005, and since 2009 NATO neighbors Italy and Greece monitor its airspace. That led to economic decline in and around Kucova, which was called “Stalin City” during the era of Communist rule.
“The base is the first footprint of NATO in the Western Balkans as it will transform Kucova into the first NATO air base for the region,” Defence Minister Olta Xhacka told Reuters.
NATO will spend over 50 million euros ($58 million) on the first stage of work to turn Kucova into a support base for supplies, logistics, training and drills, Xhacka said.
Albania feels it has earned such a transformation at the base for helping maintain stability in the Balkans and contributing to NATO peacekeeping missions around the world.