Albania received its first two UH-60A Black Hawk helicopters from the US in a turnover ceremony held at Rinas Air Base close to Albania’s capital.
Black Hawks FA-666 and FA-690 were brought to the air base by a US Air Force Boeing C-17A airlifter.
The new aircraft are part of a $50-million assistance package from the US and will be used in the Albanian Air Force’s future medical evacuation, personnel recovery, and search and rescue missions.
The US Embassy in Tirana added that they will also support NATO’s logistics movements for various operations and exercises.
2/2 The new helicopters will help bolster Albania’s rotary wing capabilities and the ability to conduct medical evacuation, personnel recovery, search and rescue missions, and support @NATO’s logistics movements for operations and exercises. The #UnitedStates is proud of the… pic.twitter.com/Rl8qGmceT8
— USEmbassyTirana (@USEmbassyTirana) January 13, 2024
An All-Helicopter Air Force
Albanian Defense Minister Niko Peleshi stated that the assistance is a huge boost to the country’s defense budget, reported to be around $386 million.
“The two Black Hawk helicopters arrived in our country as a very important investment for our Armed Forces. Special thanks to our strategic partner USA for their continued support,” Peleshi added.
The Albanian Air Force currently only operates helicopters, opting for more affordable rotary-wing aircraft.
It currently has 21 helicopters in its fleet, including an AgustaWestland AW109 from Italy, four MBB Bo 105 light utility copters from Germany, and four Eurocopter AS532 transport units.