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Albania to set up ‘Balkan West Point', receives six UAVs from US

Albania is to model its future Armed Forces Academy on the United States Military Academy (USMA), otherwise known as West Point, Albanian Defence Minister Niko Peleshi told Tirana-based TV station News24 on 29 September.

“Our long-term ambition is to have in Albania a West Point that would serve the western Balkans, i.e. a regional West Point,” said Peleshi, explaining that this process will begin with construction of a modern campus that should be completed in 2023.

Emphasising Albania's ever-increasing defence and security partnership with Washington, Peleshi also revealed that Albania had recently received six unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from the United States that will become operational in a few months after their Albanian crews are trained to use them.

Additionally, Albania is to receive two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters from the US by the end of the next year or in the beginning of 2023, said the minister. He noted that Albania has no jet fighter ambitions, but is looking to increase and unify its military helicopter fleet, which currently consists of aircraft built by various manufacturers and thus presents logistical and financial problems related to their ongoing maintenance.

Speaking about co-operation with NATO, Peleshi said that in a few months the construction of the NATO tactical air base in Kuçova will begin, which should be able to accommodate 16 fighters. This EUR50 million (USD58 million) investment, to which Albania is contributing 10%, should see a constant presence of NATO fighters in Albania once the project is completed.

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