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Further significant developments in the Hungarian air force

Text: defence.hu/MTI | Photo: archives, Ákos Pintér |  10:15 March 25, 2024

This year is all about the air force in the Hungarian Defence Forces – stated Defence Minister Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky at an international conference held in Fehérvárcsurgó, Fejér County on 22 March.


Speaking at the conference entitled “Security and Defence Policies: Europe at the heart of a transformation?”, Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky said that so far Hungary had possessed14 Gripen multirole fighter aircraft. After the expansion of the fleet with another four planes, Hungary will be one of the “international masters” of the Swedish-made aircraft, because beyond using the Gripens, it will also have training and maintenance capabilities – emphasized the minister.

The minister noted that this year we are expecting to take delivery of two big transport aircraft from Brazil, as well as trainers and reconnaissance planes from Czechia. Furthermore, the procurement of drones with suicide (kamikaze), loitering and reconnaissance capabilities is also on the agenda.

Talking about the development of the Hungarian armed forces, Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky said that besides making purchases to meet the needs of the Hungarian Defence Forces, the government is also thinking in terms of placing great emphasis on developing our defence industry, with a view to preparing it for the export markets. By way of example, he mentioned the manufacturing of Lynx infantry fighting vehicles in Zalaegerszeg and the construction of the Várpalota munitions factory.

The minister stated that a complete change of perspective and culture is going on in the Hungarian military. He emphasized that all decisions are taken to support the establishment of a combat-ready force with warfighting capabilities that are deployable anytime, instead of a “trade union of uniformed employees”.


The backbone of this force is provided by professional units with a military base-like disposition, which operate modern, high-tech equipment. In parallel, a system of territorial defence reserve is being built, which is made up of men with local knowledge, is equipped with light weaponry and covers the entire country – he added.

Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky also spoke about Hungary’s role in the alliance systems. He emphasized that our country has been a member of NATO for 25 years and of the European Union for 20 years now. Moreover, Hungary is going to hold the rotating presidency of the EU in the second half of the year.

In talking about the latter, the minister mentioned two important focal points: strengthening the independent defence capabilities of the EU and enhancing the defence industrial capabilities. He pointed out that the strategic ammunition supplies have been exhausted during the assistance being provided for Ukraine, currently there is no adequate manufacturing capacity, and the situation is similar in the field of the maintenance of equipment and the resupply of components.

The minister also spoke about the changes of the usual world order, during which the international organizations forming its backbone may possibly loosen up or even dissolve quickly. Concurrently, a process of bloc-formation may begin, in which Hungary is not interested, and so it is working to become – despite its size – “indispensable on the basis of its special geographical location and its performance”.

The two-day conference was organized by the Joseph Károlyi Foundation, with the support of the French, the Swiss and the Dutch embassies, the Italian Cultural Institute, the Austrian Kulturforum, the Deutsch-Ungarische Institut, the Mathias Corvinus Collegium (MCC) Budapest, as well as two foundations, the Hanns Seidel Stiftung and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung-Budapest.