On Monday, 24 July, two new Airbus H225M helicopters of the Hungarian Defence Forces were transferred in a ceremony held in Szolnok.
On the base of the HDF 86th Helicopter Wing, one of the new medium-lift helicopters first performed a flypast and then landed in the presence of Defence Minister Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky, Lieutenant General Dr. Gábor Böröndi, Chief of HDF General Staff and Airbus Helicopters CEO Bruno Even.
As the manufacturer of the best helicopters in the world, the French Airbus company considers it important to cooperate with the Hungarian Defence Forces, since the ongoing reform of the armed forces in Hungary provides the global company with a serious opportunity to test and develop its rotary-wing aircraft. Cooperation with Airbus is similarly important to the Hungarian Defence Forces, because the company’s name guarantees that Hungary can replace its Soviet-era choppers with world-class, dual-use (military and civil) helicopters.
In his ceremonial speech, Airbus Helicopters CEO Bruno Even said that experts in several countries are monitoring the modernization of the Hungarian Defence Forces, as they are considering placing orders for the H225M type for their own armed forces, after its units have been delivered to Hungary. The CEO of Airbus Helicopters highlighted the successful operation of its Gyula-based helicopter parts plant that opened in 2022, and this year the town will see the service factory of the aircraft painting partner company Satys joining the production, as a result of an agreement with the government of Hungary.
The CEO expressed his condolences for the fatal accident that involved Hungarian airmen who were conducting flying training this June. He pointed out that the tragedy reminded everyone of the fact that the work on flight safety must go on forever, so research and development activities are continuous in every field at the market leader French company.
Defence Minister Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky said that Hungary has reached a very important milestone in the implementation of its new force vision with the arrival of the long-awaited H225M helicopters. The minister emphasized that of the 16 units of this type on order, six helicopters to be received by the special operations forces would be fitted with a HForce weapons package specifically developed for the Hungarian air force: it will include 20mm machine guns, 70mm rocket pods, and ATGMs will also be available as a later addition.
The first arrivals, the two H225M medium-lift helicopters are tactical Troop Transport Helicopters, and another eight of this configuration will arrive later. The minister highlighted that the capabilities the new aircraft bring (back) to the Hungarian air force are ones that could not be achieved with the presently available technology. Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky also mentioned the further opportunities for increasing the number of parachute jumps, reinstating the training for airborne operations and significantly raising the number of flight hours.
“The Hungarian Defence Forces are embracing a new era”, said the minister, who repeatedly drew attention to the fact that in accordance with NATO guidelines, Hungary had already reached the target of 2% GDP allocated for defence spending in the budget. “Within this amount, NATO expects that 20% will be spent on the renewal of capabilities, on development projects. Hungary has been overperforming this target for years”, noted Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky.
Lieutenant General Dr. Gábor Böröndi presented the decree on the transfer of the aircraft to Colonel Dr. Tamás Bali, Commander, HDF 86th Helicopter Wing, and then Catholic Field Chaplain Lieutenant Colonel Roland Kálinger asked for blessing on the helicopters, but first and foremost on those who are working to make sure that “the choppers are in the air”.
“Not only the arrival of the two aircraft, but also the whole process in the helicopter branch and the Hungarian Defence Forces is crucial to me. And not only to me, but also to the whole military unit. We can grasp the real importance of this event only if we realize that what is happening before our eyes right now is a long-term capability increase,”, told Colonel Dr. Tamás Bali to the press after the transfer ceremony. The commander of the Szolnok-based wing receiving the H225M helicopters told us that the next period will be spent in the spirit of conversion training, as the bulk of the personnel received training along line of the H145 helicopters.
The academic and simulator blocks in the conversion training of 26 helicopter pilots and the eight flight engineers will take place at the Airbus Helicopters Training Academy in France, whereas Szolnok will be the venue of the hands-on basic and advanced flying training with support from Airbus instructors.
The Hungarian pilots flying the H225M will pilot a 11-ton medium-lift helicopter with a length of 19.5 meters and a height of 4.97 meters. The helicopters’ rotor diameter is 16.2 meters, their maximum speed is 324 km/h, and their cruising speed is 262 km/h. They can be flown by one person, but they have a crew of three by default, and can transport altogether 28 personnel.