Albania celebrates the acquisition of advanced UH-60A Black Hawk helicopters to enhance its defence capabilities.

Facilitated by the European Recapitalisation Incentive Programme (ERIP), the acquisition not only adds equipment to the Albanian Air Force, but also emphasises the nation’s commitment to aligning with Western military standards.

The $54m package, which includes the helicopters, General Electric T700 engines, spare parts, hardware, software, and training, marks a step towards modernising Albania’s military assets. Kelsey Simmons, programme executive office aviation security assistance management directorate (SAMD) international programme manager, highlighted the commitment involved in the package, emphasising the two-year in-country contract with SATMO, extendable as needed.

According to GlobalData’s “Albania’s Defense Market 2023-2028” report, Albania has incrementally worked on its capabilities in recent years, acquiring new small arms and mortars, Turkish Bayraktar drones, and Black Hawk helicopters. 

Led by SATMO’s Lt. Col. Camden Jordan, the team, including Chief Warrant Officer 5 Jason Rayburn and contractors, has already begun groundwork in Albania. The upcoming training, set to commence in February, will be conducted by five contractors with prior Army experience, covering all aspects of aviation, from maintenance to day-to-day flight operations.

Lt. Col. Jordan expressed enthusiasm about the collaboration with Albania, “I think getting up on that stage with NATO and the EU showed that, though it’s a country of a little over two million people, they’re here, and they’re fully committed to interoperability with NATO forces, especially in this area where Russian competition is very high. There’s excitement on all sides for future cooperation with them.”

As training takes centre stage, the collaboration between SATMO and Albania is poised to usher in a new era of cooperation, fortifying capabilities in the highly contested Balkan landscape.

Saudi Arabia has the UH-60M Black Hawk within its fleet. Meanwhile, Greece has received clearance from the US State Department to purchase 35 UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters for $1.95bn. Croatia has also bolstered its military capability by acquiring eight UH-60M Black Hawks, approved by the US State Department.

Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin unveiled plans at the DSEI 2023 exhibition to build and assemble Sikorsky Black Hawks in the UK, addressing the Ministry of Defence’s New Medium Helicopter requirement. Lockheed Martin aims to outpace competitors, by leveraging its experience in UK projects.