By LLAZAR SEMINI
TIRANA, Albania (AP) — NATO has started work to upgrade Albania’s communist-era Kucova Air Base, which will allow it to be used for alliance operations. The 45.8 million-euro ($52 million) upgrade will include renovating the runway, taxiways, and storage facilities and is designed to increase NATO interoperability and support airborne early warning missions over the western Balkan country. The base in Kucova, 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of the capital Tirana, will serve Albania and also support NATO air supply operations, logistics support, air policing, training and exercises. Kucova air base was built in the 1950s when Albania was a close ally of the then-Soviet Union. Albania has been a NATO member since 2009.