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Old Soviet and Chinese fighters will soon give way to state of the art NATO planes.12 April 2019
Albania is avidly seeking buyers for dozens of mothballed Soviet and Chinese fighter jets.
The planes come with exotic back stories. Some of the aging jets are stored in a former air base carved into the side of a mountain, AFP reports.
Even so, since opening up the bidding for the planes in 2016, legal red tape has held up the process. Museums and private collectors have expressed interest in the decommissioned MiG-19s, MiG-17s, MiG-21s, and other models.
Still more old jets sit out in the open at the Kucova air base, near the city of Berat, where they could soon be rubbing shoulders with top-of-the-line NATO aircraft.
The old jets in their mountain bunker at Gjader in northern Albania are all that remain of what was once a secret air base, AFP writes.
"It's not so easy to get this kind of aircraft now, because all of them have been mainly destroyed, not stored like they are in Albania," French businessman Julien Roche said.
The Albania-based collector hopes to buy a Chinese-made MiG-15, a gift from North Korea, for about $11,000 and install it in his garden.
NATO plans to transform the Kucova air base into one of the largest and most modern in the Balkans, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said on 1 April, as the country celebrated 10 years as an alliance member.
“It is one of the best [symbols] of this anniversary, because the base is conceived as one of the reference points of our strategic alliances, and will turn into a base for giving NATO a revival,” European Western Balkans quotes Rama as saying.
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