Albanian Military Air Bases and Airfields
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Tirana-Rinas Airport, seen in April 2003.
(photo, Bjorn Alegren)


Military Air Bases and Airfields

This page gives details of some of the air bases and airfields which are, or have been, used by the Albanian Air Force. Note: Due to the long assocition with Italy in the 20th century, many locations in Albania are better known by their Italian names. A table of Italian and Albanian names is given at the foot of this page.

Tiranė Aerodrome (ICAO code: ZOOH)
Also known as Lapraka Airfield, this is a small airfield on the western outskirts of Tiranė. It was originally built in 1939 by the Italians. It was home to the first units of the Albanian Air Force in 1951, and most recently the home base to 4050 Regt. It was later made a reserve air base with no permanently based units. By May 2006 the airfield had become completely surrounded by the city of Tirane, and the air force had moved out in 2005. The main runway is now a road, so the only active users are Ministry of the Interior and Ministry of Health helicopters.
Runway data: Rwy ?/?, Size: ? x ? ft, Elev: ? ft.

Vlorė (ICAO code: LAVL)
Vlorė air base lies south of, and close to, the city of Vlorė. The city is located on the Adriatic coast, in the south of the country. It was constructed in the 1950s. It is the home base for the Air Academy, which was first established in 1962. Since the base was occupied by rioters in 1997, the educational facilities have been refurbished. In 2001 the Air Academy merged with the airbase at Kuēovė to form the Akademia e Forcave Ajrore (Air Force Academy). Pilot training resumed in April 2004, with all aircraft flying from Kuēovė. There is also a large naval base on Sazan Island, off Vlorė (see below).
Runway data: Rwy 16/34, Size: 2813 x 195 ft (857 x 59 m), Elev: 3 ft (1 m), N40 28 33.78 E019 28 27.04, grass airfield.

Berat-Kuēovė (ICAO Code: LAKV)
Also reported as being spelled Bezat-Kuēova. It is located in the south of the country, between Vlorė and Korcė, 40 miles (64 km) south of Tiranė. It was opened in 1955. Over time, it has hosted all the fighter types used by the Albanian AF - except the F-7A. This base also houses the Aviation Maintenance Unit which performs complete overhauls on all Albanian aircraft. On 10 March 1997, the base was occupied by violent demonstrators and most of the infrastructure was severely damaged. During 2002-2004 it was upgraded to full NATO standards with a new control tower, resurfaced runways and new lighting. All the MiG-15bis aircraft based here were retired in 2002 and placed in storage in a large shelter constucted inside the mountain bordering the base.
Runway data: Rwy 14/32, Size: 9318 x 220 ft (2840 x 67 m), Elev: 135 ft (41 m), N40 46 18.80 E019 54 06.80, concrete.

Two views of some of the F-6s stored in the underground tunnel at Gjader-Zadrima in May 2006. (photo, Chris Lofting)

Lezhė-Zadrima (ICAO Code: LAGJ)
Also widely known as 'Gjadr' or 'Gjadėr', Zadrima is located in the north west of the country, south of Shkodėr (Skhodra), about 65km north of Tiranė. The airfield is unique in Albania in being built near a mountain. It was built to allow aircraft after landing to go into a tunnel under the mountain. The tunnels have a capacity of storing about 50 aircraft plus personel. As the airfield is located in the side of the mountain, the pilots have to be careful not turn when taking off as they can crash on the sides of the mountain. This airfield was built to minimise the threat from the Serbian Air Force entering Albanian airspace. Hence, the most advanced aircraft, the F-7 was based there, to counter any Serbian aircraft. Construction of the base began in 1969, but because of its complexity it wasn't finished until the mid 1970s. The first aircraft to use its runway landed on 10 July 1973, and the official opening was held on 15 March 1974. Regiment 5646 was established here with one squadron of F-6s, but in May 1976 six FT-5s arrived here and also the F-7A squadron from Rinas. On 16 October 1976, a second F-6 squadron moved to the base from Kuēovė. The home unit was later redesignated 4010 Regt. From April to November 1995 the base hosted Predator UAV systems operated by the USAF to monitor the conflict in Bosnia. On 12 March 1997, the base was stormed by local people and several buildings, including the control tower, were destroyed. Lack of funds prevented the base from being repaired, and flying operations ceased in 2000. It is now used as a storage facility for fighter aircraft withdrawn from service. No air force aircraft are permanently based there.
Runway data: Rwy 16/34, Size: 9186 x 197 ft (2800 x 60 m), Elev: 23 ft (7 m), N41 53 42.80 E019 35 55.24, concrete.

Tiranė-Rinas (ICAO code: LATI)
Rinas is co-located with Tiranė International Airport, the main airport in Albania. It is located 20 km north east of Tiranė. It was constructed in 1961 and is extremely large. It was the home of two squadrons of F-6 interceptors tasked with the defence of the capital. It is currently the home base to 4020 Regt (previously 7594 Regt). Facilities here were upgraded by the USA to enable USAF C-17s to use it for relief supply flights during Operation Allied Force in April 1999. It was also home to the spectacularly inept 'Task Force Hawk' deployment of US Army AH-64As and UH-60s of the 12th Avn Brigade between April and June 1999. After 2000 it was home to a squadron of F-6s and the few remaining serviceable F-7As.
Runway data: Rwy 18/36, Size: 9022 x 148 ft (2750 x 45 m), Elev: 126 ft (38 m), N41 24 53.07 E019 43 14.02, asphalt.

Tiranė-Farka (ICAO code: ?)
Farka (or Farkė) is located directly to the south east of Tiranė. It was opened in 1957, (Air Forces Monthly April 2004 says 27 December 1967). It is home to nearly all the helicopters in the Albanian Air Force, which are operated by 4040 Regt. It also served as home base to several helicopter detachments during Operation Allied Force, March-June 1999, including KLU CH-47D Chinooks and UAE Air Force Super Pumas. From 2004 the refurbishment and upgrading of the base will bring it up to NATO standards.
Runway data: Rwy ?/?, Size: ? x ? ft, Elev: ? ft.

Akerni (ICAO code: ?)
Akerni is a reserve base, also known as Pish Poro. It is located on the Adriatic coast, north of Vlorė. Date of construction not known. It was occasionally used by temporary detachments of CJ-6s and MiG-15UTIs from 4004 Regt during the summer, but no air force aircraft are regularly based there.
Runway data: Rwy ?/?, Size: ? x ? ft, Elev: ? ft.

Cerrik (ICAO code: ?)
Cerrik is a reserve helicopter base. It is located in central Albania, south east of Tiranė and north east of Lushnjė. Date of construction not known. It is occasionally used by Albanian Air Force, but no air force aircraft are regularly based there.
Runway data: Rwy ?/?, Size: ? x ? ft, Elev: ? ft.

Gjirokastër (ICAO code: Z001)
Gjirokastër is a reserve base. It is located in the far south of the country, towards the Greek border. Date of construction not known. It is occasionally used by Albanian Air Force, but no air force aircraft are regularly based there.
Runway data: Rwy 14/32, Size: 3855 x 228 ft (1175 x 69 m), Elev: 666 ft (203 m), N40 05 14.40 E020 09 11.00, grass airfield.

Isle of Sazan (ICAO code: ?)
The Isle of Sazan is an island close to Vlorė. In the 1950s the Soviets built an air base on the island, which also served as a base for the Soviet Air Force. The coastal area around Vlorė housed many military installations (including a naval base and SAM batteries), and even today it is a closely guarded region. The base in the Isle of Sazan is now a reserve base and is used by the Ministry of Public Order to monitor and stop illegal drug trafficants coming and going from Italy.
Runway data: Rwy ?/?, Size: ? x ? ft, Elev: ? ft.

Korcë (ICAO code: LAKO)
Korcë is a reserve base. It is located in the south east of the country, close to the Greek border. Date of construction not known. It is occasionally used by Albanian Air Force, but no air force aircraft are regularly based there.
Runway data: Rwy 01/19, Size: 7475 x 275 ft (2278 x 84 m), Elev: 665 ft (203 m), N40 38 44.36 E020 44 29.35, grass airfield.

Kukesi (ICAO code: LAKU)
Kukesi was a reserve airstrip. It is located in northern Albania, near the border between Kosovo and Macedonia. Date of construction not known. It is occasionally used by Albanian Air Force, but no air force aircraft are regularly based there. Referred to by NATO as 'Kukes', this base was used by NATO aircraft (including an RAF Chinook) during operation Allied Force, April-June 1999, to deliver relief supplies to refugees from Kosovo - although some problems were experienced as it was not equipped with airfield lighting for night operations. Subsequently, the airfield was rebuilt and is now used for civilian flights.
Runway data: Rwy ?/?, Size: 3772 x ? ft (1149 x 69 m), Elev: 1120 ft (341 m), N42.030 E20.420, dirt runway.

Orishti (ICAO code: ?)
Orishti is a reserve base. Location not known. Date of construction not known. It is occasionally used by Albanian Air Force, but no air force aircraft are regularly based there.
Runway data: Rwy ?/?, Size: ? x ? ft, Elev: ? ft.

Shijak (ICAO code: ?)
Shijak used to be a MiG base, but the aircraft were later transferred to Kuēovė and Vlorė. The base is located close to Durrės, on the Adriatic Coast, due west of Tiranė. Date of construction not known. It is no longer used by the Albanian Air Force.
Runway data: Rwy ?/?, Size: ? x ? ft, Elev: ? ft.

Table of place-name variations:
Italian Albanian
Argirocastro Gjirokastër
Durazzo Durrës
Korca Korcë
Kucova Kucovë
Lezha Lezhë
Scutari Shkodër
Tirana Tiranë
Valona Vlorë


Thanks to Andy Cela for updating this page.

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First Created: 21 May 2002 - Last Revised: 1 July 2006
Copyright © 2002 John Hayles.     e-mail: john@aeroflight.co.uk