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Pictures | Fri Oct 12, 2018 | 1:30pm EDT

Albania's graveyard of Soviet-era MiGs

Albanian Air Force members walk near dozens of MiG-s jet fighters in Kucova Air Base in Kucova, Albania, October 3, 2018. Long the graveyard of its once mighty air force, Albania's base at Kucova is set to become a NATO station - to the delight of its former airmen longing to hear the engines roar again.

REUTERS/Florion Goga

Albanian Air Force members walk near dozens of MiG-s jet fighters in Kucova Air Base in Kucova, Albania, October 3, 2018. Long the graveyard of its once mighty air force, Albania's base at Kucova is set to become a NATO station - to the delight of...more

Albanian Air Force members walk near dozens of MiG-s jet fighters in Kucova Air Base in Kucova, Albania, October 3, 2018. Long the graveyard of its once mighty air force, Albania's base at Kucova is set to become a NATO station - to the delight of its former airmen longing to hear the engines roar again. REUTERS/Florion Goga
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An Albanian Air Force member walks near an old non-function Airplane (Antonov An-2) in Kucova Air Base. Albania retired its 224 Soviet- and Chinese-made MiGs in 2005, and since 2009 NATO neighbors Italy and Greece monitor its airspace. That led to economic decline in and around Kucova, which was called "Stalin City" during the era of Communist rule.

 REUTERS/Florion Goga

An Albanian Air Force member walks near an old non-function Airplane (Antonov An-2) in Kucova Air Base. Albania retired its 224 Soviet- and Chinese-made MiGs in 2005, and since 2009 NATO neighbors Italy and Greece monitor its airspace. That led to...more

An Albanian Air Force member walks near an old non-function Airplane (Antonov An-2) in Kucova Air Base. Albania retired its 224 Soviet- and Chinese-made MiGs in 2005, and since 2009 NATO neighbors Italy and Greece monitor its airspace. That led to economic decline in and around Kucova, which was called "Stalin City" during the era of Communist rule. REUTERS/Florion Goga
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An Albanian Air Force crew member inspects a MiG-17 jet fighter in Kucova Air Base. "The base is the first footprint of NATO in the Western Balkans as it will transform Kucova into the first NATO air base for the region," Defence Minister Olta Xhacka told Reuters. NATO will spend over 50 million euros ($58 million) on the first stage of work to turn Kucova into a support base for supplies, logistics, training and drills, Xhacka said.

REUTERS/Florion Goga

An Albanian Air Force crew member inspects a MiG-17 jet fighter in Kucova Air Base. "The base is the first footprint of NATO in the Western Balkans as it will transform Kucova into the first NATO air base for the region," Defence Minister Olta Xhacka...more

An Albanian Air Force crew member inspects a MiG-17 jet fighter in Kucova Air Base. "The base is the first footprint of NATO in the Western Balkans as it will transform Kucova into the first NATO air base for the region," Defence Minister Olta Xhacka told Reuters. NATO will spend over 50 million euros ($58 million) on the first stage of work to turn Kucova into a support base for supplies, logistics, training and drills, Xhacka said. REUTERS/Florion Goga
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Names of soldiers are pictured on a MiG-17 jet fighter's body in Kucova Air Base. Albania feels it has earned such a transformation at the base for helping maintain stability in the Balkans and contributing to NATO peacekeeping missions around the world. "The region as a whole has entered into an irreversible Euro-Atlantic integration process," Xhacka added.

REUTERS/Florion Goga

Names of soldiers are pictured on a MiG-17 jet fighter's body in Kucova Air Base. Albania feels it has earned such a transformation at the base for helping maintain stability in the Balkans and contributing to NATO peacekeeping missions around the...more

Names of soldiers are pictured on a MiG-17 jet fighter's body in Kucova Air Base. Albania feels it has earned such a transformation at the base for helping maintain stability in the Balkans and contributing to NATO peacekeeping missions around the world. "The region as a whole has entered into an irreversible Euro-Atlantic integration process," Xhacka added. REUTERS/Florion Goga
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Old Albanian military vehicles are pictured at Kucova Air Base. News of a NATO base has stirred hopes in Kucova. Civilians see the base project as an economic boost for an area plagued by emigration and unemployment. The last generation of trained pilots, now in their early fifties, are keen to hear the rumble of engines again, while younger people on the site mull quitting due to their low wages.

REUTERS/Florion Goga

Old Albanian military vehicles are pictured at Kucova Air Base. News of a NATO base has stirred hopes in Kucova. Civilians see the base project as an economic boost for an area plagued by emigration and unemployment. The last generation of trained...more

Old Albanian military vehicles are pictured at Kucova Air Base. News of a NATO base has stirred hopes in Kucova. Civilians see the base project as an economic boost for an area plagued by emigration and unemployment. The last generation of trained pilots, now in their early fifties, are keen to hear the rumble of engines again, while younger people on the site mull quitting due to their low wages. REUTERS/Florion Goga
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A shepherd and sheep are pictured in Kucova Air Base. Sheep graze in the bushes between the taxiing lanes and the runway. Some 88 MiGs squat on their flat tires near three underground hangars, while birds sing around them.

REUTERS/Florion Goga

A shepherd and sheep are pictured in Kucova Air Base. Sheep graze in the bushes between the taxiing lanes and the runway. Some 88 MiGs squat on their flat tires near three underground hangars, while birds sing around them. REUTERS/Florion Goga

A shepherd and sheep are pictured in Kucova Air Base. Sheep graze in the bushes between the taxiing lanes and the runway. Some 88 MiGs squat on their flat tires near three underground hangars, while birds sing around them. REUTERS/Florion Goga
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An old Albanian military vehicle is pictured in Kucova Air Base. The runway, conceived by Soviet planners who stored dynamite under the airfield to blow it up should it fall into enemy hands and built by political prisoners in the 1950s, has good weather conditions all year round.

REUTERS/Florion Goga

An old Albanian military vehicle is pictured in Kucova Air Base. The runway, conceived by Soviet planners who stored dynamite under the airfield to blow it up should it fall into enemy hands and built by political prisoners in the 1950s, has good...more

An old Albanian military vehicle is pictured in Kucova Air Base. The runway, conceived by Soviet planners who stored dynamite under the airfield to blow it up should it fall into enemy hands and built by political prisoners in the 1950s, has good weather conditions all year round. REUTERS/Florion Goga
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An Albanian military member is pictured at the air traffic control tower in Kucova Air Base. "A NATO base there will boost the country's defense capacities, and foreign investors will have more confidence in Albania. It will also be good for employment in the area," said 68-year-old retired air force commander Klement Alikaj.

REUTERS/Florion Goga

An Albanian military member is pictured at the air traffic control tower in Kucova Air Base. "A NATO base there will boost the country's defense capacities, and foreign investors will have more confidence in Albania. It will also be good for...more

An Albanian military member is pictured at the air traffic control tower in Kucova Air Base. "A NATO base there will boost the country's defense capacities, and foreign investors will have more confidence in Albania. It will also be good for employment in the area," said 68-year-old retired air force commander Klement Alikaj. REUTERS/Florion Goga
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A MiG-19 jet fighter is pictured in Kucova Air Base. REUTERS/Florion Goga

A MiG-19 jet fighter is pictured in Kucova Air Base. REUTERS/Florion Goga

A MiG-19 jet fighter is pictured in Kucova Air Base. REUTERS/Florion Goga
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A Mi-4 helicopter is pictured in Kucova Air Base. REUTERS/Florion Goga

A Mi-4 helicopter is pictured in Kucova Air Base. REUTERS/Florion Goga

A Mi-4 helicopter is pictured in Kucova Air Base. REUTERS/Florion Goga
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A general view of Kucova Air Base. REUTERS/Florion Goga

A general view of Kucova Air Base. REUTERS/Florion Goga

A general view of Kucova Air Base. REUTERS/Florion Goga
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MiG-15 jet fighters are pictured in Kucova Air Base. REUTERS/Florion Goga

MiG-15 jet fighters are pictured in Kucova Air Base. REUTERS/Florion Goga

MiG-15 jet fighters are pictured in Kucova Air Base. REUTERS/Florion Goga
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Albanian Armed Forces member closes the gate at Kucova Air Base. REUTERS/Florion Goga

Albanian Armed Forces member closes the gate at Kucova Air Base. REUTERS/Florion Goga

Albanian Armed Forces member closes the gate at Kucova Air Base. REUTERS/Florion Goga
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An Albanian Air Force crew member walks on a wing of a MiG-19 jet fighter in Kucova Air Base. REUTERS/Florion Goga

An Albanian Air Force crew member walks on a wing of a MiG-19 jet fighter in Kucova Air Base. REUTERS/Florion Goga

An Albanian Air Force crew member walks on a wing of a MiG-19 jet fighter in Kucova Air Base. REUTERS/Florion Goga
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Old Albanian military vehicles are pictured at Kucova Air Base. REUTERS/Florion Goga

Old Albanian military vehicles are pictured at Kucova Air Base. REUTERS/Florion Goga

Old Albanian military vehicles are pictured at Kucova Air Base. REUTERS/Florion Goga
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An Albanian Military Force member use uses binoculars in Kucova Air Base. REUTERS/Florion Goga

An Albanian Military Force member use uses binoculars in Kucova Air Base. REUTERS/Florion Goga

An Albanian Military Force member use uses binoculars in Kucova Air Base. REUTERS/Florion Goga
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Albanian Air Force members walk near MiG-15 jet fighters in Kucova Air Base. REUTERS/Florion Goga

Albanian Air Force members walk near MiG-15 jet fighters in Kucova Air Base. REUTERS/Florion Goga

Albanian Air Force members walk near MiG-15 jet fighters in Kucova Air Base. REUTERS/Florion Goga
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Albanian Air Force members walk near MiG-19 jet fighters in Kucova Air Base. REUTERS/Florion Goga

Albanian Air Force members walk near MiG-19 jet fighters in Kucova Air Base. REUTERS/Florion Goga

Albanian Air Force members walk near MiG-19 jet fighters in Kucova Air Base. REUTERS/Florion Goga
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