On a desolate hillside in northern Albania, there’s a gateway to the country’s communist past: a huge steel door scrapes exposed to disclose a secreted past air base dug into the core of the mountain. It is made up of 600 metres (1,980 feet) of channels that formerly be stuffed with military life, the top-secret Gjader air base is currently a yard for dozens of large communist-era MiG jets gathering dust in the dark.
Still, Albanian authorities after three decades of shedding communism are trying to sell the Soviet and Chinese-made aircraft, of which there are lots more in additional adjoining air base.
The military’s Chief of Defence Bardhyl Kollcaku said, “Aligning our equipment and our weapons to the NATO standards” is measure of Albania’s “new chapter” with the Association, which it merged in the year 2009.
He also said, as for the MiGs, “apart from nostalgia, (for which) we will keep some of them in our museum… the rest will be treated according to the domestic legislation for sale or other usage.”
The communist-era jets, which comprise models like MiG-19, MiG-17 and MiG-21 and lot more, have been out of command for almost over a decade. But on the other hand museums, collectors and other aviation admirers have by this time conveyed interest in giving the leftovers a new home.
At the time when Albania first conversed to sell the MiGs in the year 2016, various requests came in from the Air and Space Museum in France and also a flight school in Germany. But still there have been no sales yet till date as the legal paperwork is holding up the procedure.
Not only the museums or flight school are interested but also various individuals are also on the waiting list, which also comprises of Julien Roche who is the Albania-based French businessman who planned to set up the plane in his garden.
He said in his statement regarding this concern, “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.”
He has also took his name down for one of the oldest models which was a Chinese-made MiG-15 with a price of about 10,000 euros ($11,000). This oldest model was previously used by North Koreans before being gifted to Albania.
About the Gjader Base
Gjader base was the secret base which was the part of prior communist dictator Enver Hoxha’s strategy to strengthen his solitary state in contradiction of feared foreign attacks that never appeared.
The military workforces used to work inside the network of tunnels were more than 600 and these networks were closed in the year 2000 and keep on off limits to the public.
Jets which were flown after 2000 used another military base, up to the last of the planes were occupied out of service subsequent to an accident in the year 2004.
Gjader was also broke, with people robbing weapons and selling the parts of some MiGs as scrap metal. In the present day the Albanian airforce has only a small number of helicopters and now its air space is being protected by NATO.