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Nov 2015 Gjader airbase, Albania

Discussion in 'European and International Sites' started by Julian Nowill, Mar 19, 2017 at 9:27 PM.

  1. Julian Nowill

    Julian Nowill 28DL Full Member
    28DL Full Member

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    With thanks to Urban Ghosts for information on this place: Fire up Google Maps and navigate to the settlement of Gjadër in Albania, and you’ll find a fairly typical, abandoned Eastern Bloc-style military airfield, little more than a vast runway and a small number of rundown buildings. But though flying may have ceased there in 2000, Gjadër Air Base, once stocked full of hidden fighter planes, is no ordinary disused airstrip.Two roads, one at the south end of the runway, the other two thirds of the way along the concrete strip, head south and intersect at Gjadër village. But unlike normal country lanes, these are aircraft taxiways, built to move Albania’s most advanced air defence fighters of the day to the runway from a secret, hidden hangar buried deep within a mountain range to the west of the airfield, which is also known as Lezhë-Zadrima Air Base. In addition to its cavernous underground hangar tunnels, Gjadër Air Base has a rather interesting history. From February to April 1994 the site was used by the CIA to operate (not particularly successfully) two Gnat-750 unmanned spy planes over Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Gjadër was used for a similar purpose the following year, when Predator drones of the US Air Force monitored the escalating conflict. Spy flights, under the codename Operation Nomad Vigil, lasted for 120 days at a cost of two lost Predators. The end came on March 12, 1997 when the airbase was stormed by angry locals revolting against the Albanian government. The control tower was destroyed and military forces fled four days later. Flying ceased completely due to a lack of funds to repair the airfield, but the expansive underground hangar complex continued to serve as a storage facility for around 50 redundant fighter aircraft. These have now been auctioned off. The main entry points into the hillside are still guarded so I could not take photos but instead concentrated on other random bunkers scattered around.

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    This is as close as you can get to the guarded bit however there is only one (unarmed) guard and he spends most of his time washing his VW Golf Mark 2 so a minor challenge to avoid him and get up close, however we were spotted early on.
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    The Franconian and Wevsky like this.

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