• NATO member Albania has inaugurated a refurbished Soviet-era air base named after Kucove, a town 52 miles south of Tirana.
  • The air base will serve as a modern hub for training and hosting various fighter jet operations.
  • Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said the reactivation is crucial for security in the Western Balkans.

NATO member Albania on Monday inaugurated a refurbished Soviet-era air base, the alliance’s first in the Western Balkan region.

The air base is named after the small town of Kucove, 52 miles south of the capital Tirana.

Officials said the new air base will serve as a modern hub of operations, for training and hosting an array of fighter jets.

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Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama welcomed the reactivation of the air base, which was officially closed in 2005, as “another element of security from our region of the Western Balkans, which we know well may be endangered from the neo-imperialist threats and ambitions of the Russian Federation.”

Albania air base

Military helicopters are parked at an airbase in Kocuve, about 52 miles south of Tirana, Albania. NATO member Albania inaugurated an international tactical air base on Monday, the Alliance’s first one in the Western Balkan region. (AP Photo/Armando Babani)

After the speeches at the ceremony, two U.S. F-16 and two F-35 fighter jets from Aviano Air Base in Italy flew over while two Eurofighters landed.

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NATO funded the base upgrade with around 50 million euros. It included renovations to the control tower, runways, hangars and storage facilities.

Albania joined NATO in 2009 and is a candidate for EU membership.

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