NATO has been rapidly modernizing former air base “Kucova”, which was built sixty years ago. It is estimated that over 50 million EUR has been spent so far, and there is no doubt that the final amount will be many times higher. Thanks to the good location of the Kucova base (coastal part of Albania), not only will the Western military alliance have the “whole palm” of the entire Western Balkans region but it will be able to constantly monitor the situation in the Middle East and the Black Sea region. Modernization of Kucova base was first announced two years ago by Albanian President Eddie Rama when he announced on social media that NATO had decided to take such a step as to have an air base in Albania to control airspace over the Western Balkans and the Mediterranean. When NATO’s Supreme Allied Command for Europe (“SHAPE”) confirmed this, there was no longer any doubt that Kucova would be NATO’s first air base in the Western Balkans. It was also mentioned by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at a press conference held on the occasion of a recent visit by Albanian President Eddie Rama. He then stated that “the modernization of Kucova base symbolizes NATO’s commitment to the Western Balkans region.”
The modernization of the Kucova base officially began at the end of January last year and it is planned to last for five years, which clearly indicates that, once completed, it will be of the highest standards. It is interesting that this military base was built on the project of Russian military experts. Addition to that, US Army General Todd Volters, Commander-in-Chief of the US Air Force for Europe and Africa, stated after his first visit to Kucova that the location of that base was exceptional and it would be a shame that was left unused. In addition to the above-ground facilities, the Kucova base also has a huge system of underground tunnels for keeping the aircraft. NATO personnel engaged in these operations will be faced with one particular temptation: When a runway was built sixty years ago, an explosive was placed under it by the Russian army, in case the base fell into enemy hands.