The two utility helicopters – believed to be 82-23666 and 82-23690, but now registered in Albania as FA-666 and FA-690, respectively – were delivered to Rinas by a USAF-operated C-17A Globemaster III (03-3122) assigned to the 315th/437th Airlift Wing at Joint Base Charleston in California.
A contract for the acquisition of three second-hand UH-60As from the US Army was signed by Albania’s then Defence Minister Oltha Xhacka during a visit to the US in May 2020. This formal agreement came just over a year after the move was initially announced in April 2019.
The Black Hawks will be used by the Albanian Air Force for utility, tactical transport, fast-roping and aerial firefighting missions. They are expected to be operated by the Regjimenti Helikopterëve (Helicopter Regiment) at Tirana Heliport and will augment the three AS532AL Cougar and two EC145 helicopters already in service. The status of Albania’s fleet of five AB205A-1s, seven AB206C-1s, eight Bo.105E-4s and one A109C remains uncertain.
Albanian has now become the fifth Balkan operator of the Black Hawk, joining Croatia, Greece, Romania and Turkey. Neighbouring Kosovo is also believed to be interested in acquiring the UH-60, but North Macedonia has recently opted for the AW149.