Albania agreed to purchase three Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 drones, the model that is becoming increasingly popular after its use by the Ukrainian forces against Russian invaders, the government press office said Wednesday.
The government did not say how much it paid for the drones, which carry lightweight, laser-guided bombs. The deal was signed Tuesday.
Prime Minister Edi Rama said the unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, would be armed and ready to fight, “which I hope will never occur.”
They also will be used to monitor the country’s territory for drug planting, fires, flooding and any terrorist activity.
The Bayraktar company will train 30 members of the Albanian military on air control and operation. They will operate from the Kucova air base, 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of the capital, Tirana. The air base is being renovated to support NATO air supply operations, logistics support, air policing, training and exercises.
“We signed an export contract with Albania, a country we have walked alongside for centuries and share strong historical, cultural and humanitarian ties,” said Haluk Bayraktar, owner of the Turkish company, adding that the TB2 UAVs have been sold in 27 countries.
Neighboring Kosovo is also planning to purchase Bayraktar drones.
Albania has been a NATO member since 2009. Its air force is made up of a few Cougar and other military helicopters after its old Russian and Chinese-made jets stopped flying in the late 1990s.