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Successful export of defence industry products is a common national interest for Hungary

Text: defence.hu/MTI | Photo: Warrant Officer Lajos Szabó |  12:37 March 22, 2024

On 21 March in Budapest, Defence Minister Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky underscored the importance of the export of Hungarian defence industry products at a meeting of partner enterprises organized by the Hungarian Defence Export Agency (VEX).

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In the early 2010s, Hungary realized in time that the defence capabilities of the country must be rebuilt, and the complete development of the armed forces must be started – said Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky. He added that in the current phase of strategic construction, the task ahead of us is to place the defence industry products made in Hungary on export markets as well.

By 2015, the performance of the Hungarian economy had reached a level where it facilitated the substantial development of the military – a task postponed by earlier governments –, which also encompassed a complete replacement of land forces equipment and air force assets. Back then, by drawing on defence industrial capacities smaller than the present ones, we concluded contracts with acceptable prices and delivery deadlines, and we can now enjoy their benefits – the minister said.

“Hungary has a big opportunity ahead, because although the development of the armed forces – which was launched earlier and is today in full swing – is based on domestically owned defence industry, we cannot rest content with it fulfilling only the needs of the Hungarian Defence Forces. Our aim is to build a branch of the industry with substantial export capability” – added the minister.

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He said that the construction of a partly state-financed defence industrial complex had started from scratch by involving the largest international defence industry companies. Over the last few years, manufacturing bases were established one after the other within the framework of greenfield projects: Lynx armored infantry fighting vehicles are being co-manufactured with Rheinmetall in Zalaegerszeg, Airbus has recently opened a plant in Gyula to produce helicopter parts, and a munitions factory has also been established in Kiskunfélegyháza.

Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky emphasized that these manufacturing capacities are scaled up to a level that exceeds the needs of the Hungarian Defence Forces, and therefore it is important that they cater to the export markets as well. He added that Hungary must rebuild its capability of selling defence industry products manufactured in Hungary on the international markets, because without it, the development of the defence industry would be practically “one-legged”. In his opinion, this rebuilding process will take several years, but he also underlined that we must make it to the point where the products of the firms clustered under the Hungarian Defence Export Agency and those of the partly state-owned defence industry companies can be placed on foreign markets as well.