TIRANA – Albania, On 24 January 2019, General Tod D. Wolters, Commander Allied Air Command, conducted a symbolic ground-breaking ceremony at the Albanian Ministry of Defence in Tirana starting off a NATO security investment into Albania's Kuçova Air Base.
"It is hard to imagine that just ten short years ago during the spring of 2009 your great nation embraced the Alliance and here we are ten short years later celebrating the initiation of the infrastructure improvement at Kuçova airbase," said General Wolters who was in Tirana on behalf of the Supreme Allied Commander Europe. "What we anticipate over the course of the next months and years is the continuing improvement of the infrastructure and what will ultimately happen is there will be an aircraft haven at Kucova. We are extremely extremely excited about advancing that cause," the General added.
General Wolters attended a press event together with the Albanian Minister of Defence, Mrs. Olta Xhacka, who said: "This year Albania is engaged in leading a number of initiatives aimed at supporting regional security. In cooperation with our NATO neighbours we will continue to promote a policy of extending the course of collective stability and security. This is the only way to clearly demonstrate the Euro-Atlantic values in the Western Balkans."
NATO's Security Investment Programme covers major construction projects in Allied countries improving the security of the Alliance. NATO plans to invest 51 million Euros to modernise the facilities at Albania's Kuçova air base making it operational according to NATO-approved criteria and standards. Related projects include restoration to the runway, construction of a fighter ramp, upgrade of the air base tower, construction of fuel storage, ammunitions storage facility and a new crash and fire station.
During the ceremony on 24 January, Allied fighter jets from Greece and Italy conducted a fly-past over Tirana showcasing the Alliance's commitment to Albania and its population. The fighter jets from Greece and Italy are responsible for providing the Air Policing capability over Albania. Controlled by the Combined Air Operations Centre at Torrejon, Spain, via the Control and Reporting Centre in Tirana, the jets are ready 24/7 to safeguard the skies in the West Balkans.
Story by Allied Air Command Public Affairs Office