Quick, which national air force killed 35 fighter pilots and yet never technically scored a single “victory”? The answer is the Albanian Air Force, which lost 35 of its own fliers in accidents but never fired a shot in anger. You can give that answer only a little while longer, though, according to a Reuters dispatch from Tirana. The Balkan nation, ruled for decades by the Stalinist/Maoist maniac Enver Hoxha, is scrapping its entire fleet of Soviet-designed MiGs, many of which date to the 1950s. (Hoxha died in 1985) The danged things are just getting too expensive to keep up and fuel, and too dangerous to fly. The armed forces chief, Gen. Pellumb Qazimi, told Reuters, “If anyone wants to buy them, they are welcome.” He added that some interested Western buyers “wanted to turn them into bars.” At one point, Albania’s air arm boasted 125 MiG-15s, MiG-17s, and MiG-19s.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.