Air Force History

I. Attempts to create the Aviation Force should be looked back in the Aviation history. Before World War II, the governments, despite of their efforts, didn’t achieve such a thing, due to economic reasons.

The first step to establish a Military Aviation in Albania was laid in 1914, when the Albanian government ordered the purchase of three “Lohner Daimler” aircrafts from Austria in order to establish the Albanian Air Corps. The order was cancelled as a result of the First World War and during 1920-1930 Albania didn’t possess the necessary resources to restart the development of the Air Force. The first attempts to buy aircrafts and to establish an Air Force resumed again in the late 30s, at that time the pilot cadets were sent to study in Austria, Italy and France.

Albanian Military Aviation was established after World War II and the official date of its foundation is April 24, 1951. The Airspace Surveillance was also institutionalized after the war. On February 14, 1947 it was created VAIN Company for aerospace surveillance and information on detected objects.

The first group of fighter jets was created in Tirana in 1951, where the planes type JAK-18 and PO-2 were part of. The first installation of Jet Aviation was established in Kuçova in 1955 and it comprised MIG-15 aircrafts.

In 1957, it was established the Military Transportation Unit in Tirana, which was composed of I-2 and JAK-18 planes ,as well as MI-1 and IL-4 helicopters. 

In 1962 it was created the Aviation Regiment in Rinas, which was composed of a squadron of MIG-19 aircrafts and a squadron of MIG-17 aircrafts. In the same year, it was established the Aviation School.

In 1967, it was created the Helicopter Regiment, including over 30 new MI-4 helicopters.

In 1974, it was established Gjadri Regiment, which was equipped with MIG-21 and MIG-19 aircrafts, in addition to some training MIG-17 and MIG-15 aircrafts for training purposes. 

In the ‘70s, the Military Aviation had fully efficient with over 70 MIG-19 and 12 MIG-21 aircrafts, a combat squadron of MIG-17 fighter jets and many combat-training MIG-15 aircrafts. Parts of the military aircraft fleet were four transport IL-14 aircrafts, which served as transport aircrafts for governmental transport or geographical military studies. 

There were also deployed 12 light transport AN-2 aircrafts in Lapraka, Tirana, which were used to transport troops and to support the local economy. In the Aviation School in Vlora, besides the reactive MIG-15 jets, there were also deployed two squadrons of JAK-81 aircrafts with propellers, which served for the training of the pilots in the first year of their education as pilots. In Rinas Regiment there was deployed a light bomber type IL-28.

In the 70s-80s, the level of flight programming was intensive and the quantity of flights for each plane and pilot met the highest standards and requirements.

After 2000, the Air Force started to include the Western flying techniques. In April 2001 arrived the first AB-206 helicopters, while on November 26, 2003 a whole squad of such helicopters was completed. 

On April 24, 2004 arrived the first AB-205 helicopter.

On February 1, 2007 arrived a A-109 helicopter for VIP transport.

On June 18, 2007 arrived the first BO-105 helicopters.

On July 28, 2012 arrived the EC-145 helicopters, VIP version.

On December 3, 2012 arrived the first multirole COUGAR helicopter.

II. The Antiaircraft Defence and Aviation are "joint and spilt up" several times by organizational structures, but they have always had a strong cooperation between them. In the beginning of its establishment, the Aviation Service was part of Antiaircraft Defence Command and continued to be a component of this command until 1974.  It rejoined the Air Defence Force in 1995. The first Aviation commander was Mr. Edip Ohri, who led this Force until 1974. From 1975 to 1995, there were several Aviation commanders such as Bardhyl Taçi, Klement Aliko and Perlat Binaj. 

Many of these military officers, who have led and served over the years, are the most prominent figures of our Army, such as Rrahman Parllaku, Gjin Marku, Hito Çako, Todi Naço, Sotir Filto, Arif  Hasko, Edip Ohri, Niko Hoxha, Babaçe Faiku, Bardhyl Taçi, Klement Aliko, Haki Jupasi, Perlat Binaj, Salih Dibra, Haki Jupasi, Stefan Kagjini, Lulo Musai, Perikli Teta, Foto Lako, Harilla Rebi, Perlat Sula, Brigadier General Astrit Jaupi, etc, who are well-known  throughout the Army for their commitment in accomplishing their duties. 

III. The Antiaircraft Defence, Military Aviation and Airspace Surveillance units have always been closely cooperative and collaborative among them, despite different organizational structures over the years. Besides that, they have had different structural dependence with each-other in years.

Albania’s Antiaircraft Defence celebrates its foundation day on the 1st of July 1931, the date on which was adopted the legal act “On the organization of the National Army”, and it was sanctioned the establishment of the first three antiaircraft batteries in our country in the ports of Shëngjin, Durres and Saranda. The Antiaircraft Defence had a major development in 60-70s. In 1954-1955 it was equipped with 85mm AA batteries and more sophisticated radio-technical equipments, whereas in 1957-1958 it was equipped with 57 and 100mm batteries.  In 1959-1969, the guided missiles became part of Aviation ammunition, 37mm cannons, 57mm and 100mm cannons with automatic direction, four-barrels 14.5mm machine guns, and long, short and medium range distance radars. The Antiaircraft Guided Missile Regiment, which was considered as the pride of this service, was established on December 6, 1968. In the 70s there were 22 AKA regiments, 18 AKA machine guns battalions, which accounted about 6 barrels per each kilometre of the front.

IV. The Air Force was established as a new structure on August 18, 2000 under the organizational structure of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Albania stated by the Constitution. Air Force was comprised of: Helicopter Regiment, Air Brigade, Air detachment, Air Support Bases, Air Observation Battalion, Logistics Battalion, Meteorological Service Centre, Aircraft Maintenance Centre, Air Force Troops School and complementary subunits.

All these units have been part of Antiaircraft Defence and Military Aviation over the years.

V. Under the new structure and its implementation in 2007, the Air Force undertook several changes in order to increase the professionalism and to meet the standards required for NATO membership. 

As a result of the new structure from 2007 to 2009, the Air Force was restructured at Air Brigade level and its units were: Farka Helicopter Regiment, Marikaj Air Defence Battalion, Meteorological Service, Rinas Air Base, Kuçova Air Base, whereas Air Force Troops School Corps was subordinated to the Training and Doctrine Command.

VI. Because of the changes in TOP (Table of Organization and Personnel), in early 2010 the Air Force was restructured again at Air Force level.

Under the new restructuring the Helicopter Regiment was changed into the Air Base. Rinas Air Base became VIP Detachment, ASOC (Air Sovereignty Operation Centre) in CRCn (Control and Reporting Centre), Marikaj Provisional Detachment was deployed in Rinas and it was named Air Observation Centre.

By decree of the President of the Republic no. 6416 and no. 6420, date 16.02.2010, and by order of the Minister of Defence no. 237, date 19.02.2010, Brigadier General Dhori Spirollari was appointed Air Force Commander.

VII. 37 militaries of the Aviation Service lost their lives for the country and were declared “Martyrs of the Nation”. By decision of the Albanian Government, since April 24, 2003, they rest in the National Martyrs’ Cemetery in Tirana and in other cities.

In 1997, four militaries of Antiaircraft Defence lost their lives for the country defending the army units from destruction; they were Muhammad Hasmuja, Arben Hoxha, Albert Lela and Bardhyl Këlliçi. They were declared “Martyrs of the Nation”.

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